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Moray Eel

Moray Eel Facts

Size 4.5 in to 13 feet (11.5 to 400 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight Up to 66 pounds(30 kg)
Lifespan 10-30 years
Food Molluscs, fish
Predators Sharks, barracudas
Habitat Tropical and subtropical seas, Mediterranean sea
Order Eels
Family Morays
Scientific name Muraenidae
Characteristics Sharp teeth, long body

Main Characteristics

Morays are bony fish living in tropical seas. Only two of about 200 species that are known today live at European coasts.

Moray Moray - Photo: Vlad Siaber/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

The Smallest Moray

The smallest moray is the Snyder moray (Anarchias leucurus), which only measures 4.5 inches (11.5 cm).


The Biggest Moray

With a length of 13 feet (4 meters), the slender giant moray (Strophidon sathete) holds the record as the longest moray.

The Heaviest Moray

The giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus) only reaches a length of 10 feet (3 meters), but it is the heaviest species weighing up to 66 pounds (30 kg).

Moray Moray - Photo: Neirfy/Shutterstock


Are Morays Dangerous

Many people feel a cold shiver running down their spine when seeing a moray with its glare and sharp teeth. And there is also a lot of delusion. No, morays are hardly ever aggressive and they don’t have poison fangs. But morays can still be poisonous if they have eaten carrion and the bacteria get transmitted with their bite. Yet, they only bite humans to defend themselves or by accident (because they have very bad eyesight).

Morays Snap for Air

Morays permanently open and shut their mouth. This looks rather intimidating, but it is simply their way of breathing: They do it to pump water rich in oxygen into their gills.


Moray Moray - Photo: Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

Do Morays Have a Good Sense of Smell?

Morays lie in ambush and sniff to detect their prey. They have an excellent sense of smell and simply snap if something tasty is floating by.

Do Morays Have Good Vision?

Yet, unfortunately they have very bad eyesight, but have a huge jaw according to the motto: “I will catch something anyway.” Preferably fresh prey, but also some carrion if need be.


Morays like to let cleaner shrimps brush their teeth. The little crabs feed on the leftovers they find between the teeth of the predatory fish. They moray would never think of eating its little helpers as they also remove parasites and dirt. In a way, they are their automatic toothbrushes with dental floss functionality.

Moray Moray - Photo: Laura Dinraths/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

The Green Moray Eel is ... Blue

The body of the green moray eel (Gymnothorax funebris) is covered by yellow slime. Yet, its body is blue, but it appears to be green – because if you mix blue and yellow, you will get green. Just try it with your paintbox. The slime protects the moray from sharp cliff edges.

Not to Be Confused With a Moraine

A few letters can make such a difference. While the moray is an animal, the moraine consists of snow and debris that is being pushed downhill by a glacier.

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