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moray eel

There are about 100 species of moray eels worldwide. These fish live in coral reefs or rocky areas of shallow tropical seas worldwide. These nocturnal (most active at night) fish have a long, muscular, snake-like body.

Anatomy: Moray eels have skin that is scaleless, thick, camouflaged, and covered with protective mucus. The eyes are tiny, and this fish has very bad vision. Morays have a small, circular gill on each side of the head, well behind the mouth. The mouth is kept open (and moving) to help water circulate through the gills (even the inside of this eel's mouth is camouflaged since it is kept open). The wide jaws are filled with long, sharp teeth. Most morays lack pectoral and pelvic fins; the dorsal fin runs along most of the back to the caudal fin (the tail) and into the anal fin, which runs along the underside of the body. Moray eels average about 5 feet (1.5 m) long. The biggest moray is Thyrsoidea macrurus of the Pacific Ocean, which is up to about 3.5 m (11.5 feet) long.

Diet: Morays eat other fish (including other eels) and mollusks (like octopi). Camouflaged moray eels hide among rocks, coral, or eelgrass beds, waiting for prey animals to get near enough to catch them. Morays find prey mostly by using a keen sense of smelll.

Enemies: Morays have few predators. Large groupers and other moray eels sometimes prey upon morays. Some morays are eaten by people (but some speces are toxic to people).

Classification: Class Osteichthyes (bony fish), Subclass Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish), Order Anguilliformes (eels), Family Muraenidae (moray eels), many genera and species.



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