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Gymnothorax moringa Species ID:
A medium-sized snake-like fish with a smooth, muscular body covered in many small, overlapping black and white spots (1) with a pale to white belly. This moray eel has a fairly large mouth with many sharp needle-like teeth (2). The dorsal and anal fins are edged with black (3). Males and females appear similar Maximum Size:
1 m (6 ft) Longevity:
Approximately 10 years Status:
Not currently on the IUCN endangered species list Spotted Moray Eel & People:
The spotted moray eel is of minor importance as a food fish. However, it is commonly caught in fish traps and sold locally on a small scale either fresh or salted. It is also occasionally sold as an aquarium fish
Found throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, north to the Carolinas and south to Argentina. Also found in the mid-Atlantic islands Coral Reef Zone:
Found in the shore, back reef, reef flat, fore reef and drop-off zones Favourite Habitat:
Spotted moray eels inhabit shallow reef areas, rock rubble zones and even sea grass beds. Depth:
0–200 m (0–656 ft)
A Day in The Life
Dawn: Hunting activity decreases and moray eels retreat into the reef to hide
Day: During the day spotted moray eels hide within the structure of the reef at one of several shelter sites. Their head can often be seen poking from a reef crack or hole
Dusk: Spotted moray eels leave their daytime shelters and begin hunting for prey
Night: Spotted moray eels hunt actively on coral reefs and in seagrass beds
Who Eats Who?
Spotted moray eels are coral reef predators with a varied diet, feeding on fish (such as parrotfishes, grunts, trumpetfish and snappers), crustaceans (such as crabs and lobsters) and molluscs (such as octopuses). Spotted moray eels also eat carrion and are known to be cannibalistic. Only very large reef creatures, such as the dog snapper and Nassau grouper, are known to feed on this species.
Scuba Diver & Snorkeler Best Practices
Select environmentally friendly dive operations: Go ‘green’ when booking dive and travel plans—use companies that follow and promote ecofriendly practices, and abide by local laws and regulations like paying user fees for the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). You may wish to investigate staying at a hotel that practices energy conservation, and recycles and treats waste in a responsible way. Select only dive businesses that follow a policy of best practices in all activities related to diving.