A locally found fish here on Koh Tao is the species of White eyed Moray eels Gymnothorax thyrsoideus, otherwise know around the world as the Greyface moray. Small compared to others in the moray family. Measuring in at only a max length of 66 cm, and slender compared to other moray’s.
With their snake like body eels can be considered a usual and sometimes ugly or scary member of the marine world. However the more you understand about these sea serpents, the more you will find the intriguing and interesting.
For instance moray eels will launch forward at their prey grab it and then use teeth embedded deep in their throat known as phraryngeal teeth to draw the prey further in to their mouths. This helps them keep a hold of their prey and enables them to feed on small crustaceans, cephalopods and fishes. This type of moray is actually classed as a carnivorous benthic fish, that usually stays sheltered during the day and leaves it’s lair at night to go hunt. Most eels prefer areas with lots of shelter, rock formations or wrecks can be a great area to locate an eel, or two.
So some more interesting facts that I find very intriguing about moray’s is their partnership they sometimes have with other predatory fish. With an eels eyesight being generally poor, and having to use other hightened senses. Another way around this would be to have a hunting buddy, a friend to go out hunting with.
Scientists have actually witnessed this relationship happening again and again, a grouper would swim up to a resting moray, give a couple of head shakes and off they go. With the eel being long and slender, able to fit through small gaps, and then the grouper being larger and bulkier preventing an additional prey from escaping once flushed out by the eel. This partnership has actually created a success rate 5 x greater than if they hunted alone. “Team work makes the dream work”.
Journal reference: Public Library of Science (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040431)
Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10730-eels-and-groupers-hunt-better-together/#ixzz64OYXORpD
So next time you dive one of our local sites, keep a look out the magical serpent that is the moray eel, and maybe you’ll get a glimpse of the head shake, pro hunting team.
If you want to learn more about the many wonderful fish to be found around the gulf of Thailand, and how to identify them. Then why not sign up for our SSI Fish ID course today.