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That’s A Moray!

That’s A Moray!

During the day fishes swim and forage, their bright colors and behavior admired by snorkelers and divers. As twilight approaches night critters emerge from their burrows and coral polyps open their delicate tentacles to feed on plankton. The reef comes alive at night. This is the domain of the moray eel slithering down a lava rock ledge to disappear in a dark cave. Long feared and respected, moray eels evoke visions of serpents waiting to pounce on unsuspecting humans.  In ancient Rome, the emperor Nero was said to punish disobedient servants by throwing them into pits of hungry eels. In modern times, Mike Nelson of the 1960’s series “Sea Hunt” had frequent encounters with eels and fought them off with his trusty dive knife. Movies like “The Deep”, portray the moray eel as a creature to be feared. Yet contrary to these images, eels are not vicious man eaters, but fascinating reef fish with an odd appearance. Moray eels, or puhi in Hawaiian, are very abundant in island waters. Represented by 40 species in the family Muraenidae, they are quite diverse in size, appearance and habits. The Giant Moray can reach a length of 10 ft. and weigh 75 lbs. Imagine coming face to face with this creature, the vision appearing 25% larger due to refraction from a mask! Lacking scales and protruding fins, it is easy to think of Moray Eels as separate category, but they are truly bony fishes. The dorsal, caudal and anal fins are fused, and instead of scales, nature has provided them with a layer of mucus which protects the skin from germs and parasites....