Mediterranean Moray (Muraena Helena)

Latin name: Muraena helena
Common name: Mediterranean moray
Also known as: Moray eel
In other languages: E: Morena, F: Murene de la Mediterranee, D: Muräne
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anguilliformes
Family: Muraenidae

Habitat: In crevices, wrecks and similar hiding places.

Reproduction: Breeding time is July to September, eggs have size of 5mm to 5.5 mm.

Behaviour: Crepuscular, aggressive predators, mouth is held partially open at most times.

Diet: Feeds on fish and invertebrates such as squid.

Size: Common: 60 - 100cm, maximum: 130cm.

Shape: Long body; slimy and thick skin; head with pointed snout, strong jaws and sharp teeth, small gill openings; dorsal fin starts closely behind head.

Colour: Reddish brown to blackish; yellow and white spots like a leopard.

Did you know: This is one of two species of muraenidae found in the Mediterranean. All that has been said about the conger eel is basically the same for the moray, though the moray is shorter on warning signals (see conger conger ). The moray barks, but unless you are very close you will not hear it. And if you are close, you will invariably get bitten. Great care should be taken by anglers and divers with moray bites, they can go septic very quickly; the blood of the moray can be poisonous if it gets into an open wound. The flesh can also be poisonous if not treated correctly. The moray eel is a noble fish that commands respect, if you treat the moray accordingly and keep your distance it will permit observation from divers and will become quite friendly. But take not that this will take time.

Mythology & fable: The moray was well known by the Romans who kept them in tanks in their homes to entertain guests. Oppian the Greek poet wrote about its mating habits.

Medicine: Pliny tells us that the blood of the moray could cure hair from falling out, we emphasise however that we do not advocate testing it!