Moray eels have a snake-like appearance with an elongated body and slightly flattened tail. There are approximately 200 different species of moray eel and they can vary in colour, pattern and size ranging from just 10cm to almost three meters in length.
Morays are found in both shallow and deep waters and spend a lot of time hiding in crevices and holes amongst the rock and coral reefs. This way, they remain out of sight from predators but are also able to ambush any unsuspecting prey that may pass. Moray eels secrete a slippery mucus to protect them against predators which in some eel species is toxic. Although one of the top predators themselves, they are often hunted by large sea creatures such as sharks and barracudas.
Moray eels have two sets of jaw; the second jaw is located in their throat which they launch into their mouth when feeding. This allows them to grasp prey and transport back into their throat and digestive system. Moray eels are carnivorous and mainly feed on other fish, molluscs, cuttlefish, squid and crustaceans.
Mating generally occurs at the end of the summer when the water is at its warmest. Fertilisation takes place outside the womb in the surrounding water, known as spawning. Over 10,000 eggs can be released which develop into larvae and become part of plankton. It can take up to one year for the young to grow large enough to swim and join the community below on the ocean floor.
The Oceanarium is home to three species of moray eel; honeycombe, green and giant. They can be found in the Oceanarium’s Great Barrier Reef display and are fed during a presentation four times a week.