FORAYS WITH MORAYS (1): EEL APPEAL IN THE BAHAMAS
MORAY EELS are found in most oceans, with around 200 species worldwide. In Bahamian waters, the 3 most common are the green, yellow and spotted morays, all featured below. These ones have been given affectionate names by the divers who encounter them regularly in their home surroundings – Rico, Judy, Wasabi and Earl.
Morays have something of a reputation for aggression, though (like many creatures with teeth) they much prefer to swim away or hide rather than attack. They will defend themselves resolutely, however, so it might be a mistake the get too close.
Hand-feeding morays has become a popular dive activity. However there can be drawbacks. They have poor vision, and may find it difficult to distinguish between food, finger-food and fingers. There are many cases of divers who have lost a finger while hand-feeding moray eels; in some places it has been banned.
The moray eel has strong clamping jaws, and its sharp teeth point backwards
This has two effects. A finger will be held as if by a fish-hook barb; and the eel will not release the grip of its powerful jaws without them being prised apart.
Moray eels have a strong sense of smell, and curious nostrils
Finally, here are two images of a fine spotted moray eel known as ‘Earl’, and a video of a different one
Credits: All images ©Melinda Riger @ Grand Bahama Scuba