Oceanpedia Critter finder Fish Eels
To many people eels are slimy snake-like
creatures to be avoided but eels are fish not snakes and seeing one in its
natural reef environment can be quite a spectacle. Moray eels are common reef residents.
Normally found with their head sticking out of a cave they can appear quite
aggressive but don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
The continual opening and closing of an eels mouth is not a threatening display
at all. It simply allows them to draw water in over their gills and out
through small holes on the side of their neck allowing them to breathe. Their
large backwards pointing teeth are used to grab octopus and fish which are then
swallowed whole. Extensions on their nostrils give them an exceptional sense
of smell. The ribbon eel is a species of moray eel. The juveniles are jet black with a yellow dorsal fin
while adult males are blue with a yellow dorsal fin. They hide in sand or rock dashing out to feed on smaller fish. While some members of the more a family
can reach lengths of three metres not all species are quite as conspicuous.
These eels resemble a field of sea grass but as divers approach the grass
mysteriously disappears. Called garden eels they are masters of
disguise and occur in large colonies on sandy reef slopes.
Extending their bodies out of their burrows they bend their heads into the
current picking off individual items of plankton that pass by.