Moray Eels

© Johan Boshoff

Common Family Name

Moray eels

Others in the Family

Leopard, Green, Starry, Black cheek, Guinea fowl, Black blotched, Golden, Zebra

Scientific Name



Up to 4 m


Body laterally compressed. Very muscular. Having a large mouth with sharp backwards-facing teeth. No scales. No pectoral fins. Dorsal fin starts behind the head and continues through the tail fin to anal fin. Colouration varies widely from white to black, often with spots.

General Info

Muraenidae family consists of 15 genera and 200 species. Usually found in rock crevices or under ledges. Hunts mostly at night. Possessing a very good sense of smell. They have pharyngeal jaws, which is a second set of jaws situated in the throat which helps with holding the prey and feeding it down the throat. Some species secrete toxic mucus from their skins. Moray eel bites can infect quickly because of the bacteria on their teeth. Pelagic spawners.


Feeds on crabs, shrimps, fish and octopus.


Occurs in all temperate and tropical oceans of the world.

Common Species

Giant moray eel
Gymnothorax javanicus
Honeycomb moray eel
Gymnothorax favagineus
Geometric moray eel
Siderea grisea

© Johan Boshoff