Moray eels occur in all tropical and subtropical seas. They are most abundant in shallow water on coral and rocky reefs. They differ from other eels by having small rounded gill openings and they lack pectoral fins. The skin of a moray eel is thick, has no scales and feels smooth to the touch. The morays can open their mouths very wide and many have strong, sharp teeth that enable them to grab and hold their prey. Those morays with needle-like teeth feed most of fishes, but also eat some crustaceans and cephalopods. Their are other morays that have have molar-like teeth that they use to crush the hard exoskeletons of crabs and urchins. Although typically not a threat to divers, some species will bite if provoked or threatened.
Most morays do not exceed a length of 5 feet. The largest species, Thyrsoidea macrurus of the Pacific, is known to grow about 11.5 feet long.
CoralRealm has species profiles on 38 different moray eels. A small selection of those are shown below. Members may click a species photo to get a large photo and complete description.
All photos © Scott W. Michael