Voracious Moray Eels

California Moray Eels (Gymnothorax mordax) are hardy animals that can grow up to 5 feet in length and live up to 30 years of age. They lack pelvic fins, pectoral fins, or gill covers, and along with their long slim body gives them a snake like appearance. California moray eels are often found resting in crevices and hiding between rocks during the day and hunting for prey at night. They are often found living with Peppermint shrimp as they have a mutualistic relationship with them. The trusting shrimp can be seen climbing into the mouth of the eels to clean any parasites growing inside.

Moray Eel with Peppermint Shrimp

Moray Eel with Peppermint Shrimp

Moray eels, like most bony fish, have pharyngeal jaws. These are jaws and teeth that are located in the throat and aid in capturing prey and swallowing them. In most bony fish, these jaws have the ability to create suction like pressure that can pull the prey into its mouth. Morays cannot create this suction because of its narrow mouth and elongated body. In order to combat this disadvantage, they have evolved the ability for their pharyngeal jaws to be mobile, allowing them to pull the prey further into their mouth.

For more information visit these websites:

http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Gymnothorax-mordax.html

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/california-moray-eel

http://www.mapoflife.org/topics/topic_361_Pharyngeal-jaws-in-teleost-fish/

Written By: Desmond Ho

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