>Ocellated Moray Eel - Gymnothorax saxicola

Ocellated Moray Eels are nocturnal animals that inhabit the waters of the Western Atlantic, including the Greater Antilles south to Brazil, including the Central American coast from Nicaragua to northern coast of South America. Morays are members of the family Muraenidae. The 100 species identified by scientists range in size from 2-10 feet. The largest is the giant moray which reaches 10 feet in length and weighs 75 pounds whereas; Ocellated Moray Eels reach lengths of only about 1 foot. Morays have beautiful color patterns which help to camouflage them in the reef. Because morays keep their mouths open almost all of the time, the insides of their mouths are camouflaged also.

All Morays have muscular, snake-like bodies with thick skin. They have no scales, but a layer of mucus covers the body and protects the skin from germs and parasites. Pelvic and pectoral fins are not found on morays eels. Morays eels have one long dorsal fin that curves around and connects with the short caudal fin (tail fin). The only fin found on the belly is the long anal fin. In the moray eels, the dorsal, caudaul and anal fins are all connected.

Like all morays the Ocellated moray eels has poor eyesight but a very good sense of smell. Because it is a night hunter with poor eyesight, the moray relies on its keen sense of smell to locate prey hiding in the coral.

Ledges and caves within the coral reef are the favorite lairs for the eels.

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