KINGDOM: Animalia (Animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (Possessing a notochord)
CLASS: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
ORDER: Anguilliformes (Eels)
FAMILY: Muraenidae (Moray eels)
SUB-FAMILY: Muraeninae (Moray eels)
GENUS: Gymnothorax (Moray eels)
SPECIES: Gymnothorax favagineus (Honeycomb moray)
Honeycomb moray eels are widespread throughout the Indo-West Pacific area from the eastern coast of Africa (including the Red Sea) to Papua New Guinea, and from south Japan to the Great Barrier Reef.
Eels resemble snakes but are, in fact, fish. The honeycomb moray’s long slender body has a white to yellowish base colour with numerous black spots covering the entire body. The spots vary in size and shape depending on the individual and on the environment in which the animal lives.
Honeycomb moray eels prefer caves, seagrass beds, ledges and the outer slopes of coral reefs. During the day they shelter in deep crevices.
Honeycomb moray eels are carnivores (meat eaters). They are opportunistic hunters, feeding at night. They feed on small fish, mollusks, octopus and invertebrates.
The honeycomb moray is mostly a solitary animal. Moray eels are hardly found together with other moray species in the wild. They are territorial animals and fights between these eels are spectacular.
Although knowledge of honeycomb moray breeding behaviour is limited, it is likely that honeycomb moray eels are polygynandrous (males and females will both have several mates). The female will find a safe and hidden place to lay her eggs and release and odor that will alert males to fertilize the eggs. The eggs will hatch after 30 to 45 days, and the baby eels are independent from birth. Hatched baby eels are still in larval form and are thin and leaf-shaped; they will float in the open ocean for about 8 months in this form. Only a small percentage of the larvae will reach maturity, with most ending up as food for larger predators. Sexual maturity is reached at about 3 years of age. They can live up to about 30 years.
Honeycomb moray eels are preyed upon by other moray eels, groupers, barracudas, and sea snakes.
Moray eels are not endangered. They are also not at risk from overfishing, but can still face many threats such as change of ocean conditions, pollution, and destruction of the coral reef habitat.
Did you know?
- Honeycomb morays detect their food by smell
- Moray eels produce slippery substance, acting as protective mucus, which covers their body
- This species has a habit of rearranging rocks and sand in aquariums
- The honeycomb moray eel is the second largest of all moray species and can reach a maximum of 300 cm in length & weigh approximately 29 kg