Meet Larry, Curly and Moe. They are three Moray eels found at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. Often referred to as mosters of the sea, these curious creatures are not actually the mosters they are thought to be. Their shape and habits do however give them some real advantages for survival.
A few facts about the Moray eels:
While they have large eyes, they have poor vision and compensate with an acute sense of smell.
Moray eels are rarely found swimming about in the daytime because they are nocturnal. They hide in crevices and snatch prey as it passes by.
Moray eels are most often found in warmer tropical waters in coral reefs but can also occasionally be found in colder waters.
Green Moray eels are actually blue but a yellow slimy coating used to help them slide through rough rocky or coral areas and that yellowy slime makes them appear green.
Moray ells are not typically aggressive but will strike if frightened or threatened. They typically do not bite unless provoked but their strong jaws and sharp teeth can bite through fingers or hands.
Moray eels are actually fish and not reptiles despite their snake like appearance.
There are well over 200 different species and can range in size from under one foot to over 7 feet long.
A moray eel is carnivorous and their diets consist only of meat. Fish, mollusks and crabs are their main source of food.
Moray eels can swim both backwards and forwards. They can lunge both backward and forward with great speed which increases their threat if startled or provoked.
Many other eels produce a toxic poison that discourages them from being a source of food. Moray eels while they do not produce this poison, are still considered toxic and can cause serious illness if consumed.