Family Muraenidae
Moray Eels

Species Worldwide: 200 (15 genera)

Species In Hawaii: 38

Endemic species in Hawaii: xxx


This is the second largest family of shore fish in Hawaii. Only the wrasses (Family Labridae) have more species. Moray eels may give a fearsome impression because they are almost always seen with their mouth open, displaying their sharp teeth. It is true that morays have been recorded to have bitten divers but usually not without provocation. The reason why they have their mouth constantly open is purely to pump water over the gills to breath. Moray bites are not venomous themselves but may give serious infections as a result of certain bacteria in their mouths. Some moray eels can also cause ciguatera fish poisoning.

Most moray eels are hermaphroditic, usually starting as males and later changing sex to females. Other species may be synchronous hermaphrodites, which means they are technically males and females at the same time.


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