Dragon Moray EEL

Dragon Moray EEl
DRAGON MORAY EEL (Enchelychore perdalis)
Pronounced: En-chel-i-core per-dal-is Order: Anguilliformes
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Muraenidae
Phylum: Chordata Genus: Anchelycore
Class: Actinopterygii Species: Perdalis

2012 was the Year of the Dragon – and there were dragons everywhere! This one lives near coral reefs in the waters of Hawaii to south of Japan and South and Central Polynesia. Its patterned body changes as it matures, but always matches the colourful coral nearby as camouflage. It is also called the Leopard Moray for the orange and white pattern it attains at maturity.

They may look like horns, but those protrusions above its mouth are actually nostrils – two sets of them- for smelling, not breathing. The dragon moray eel has an excellent sense of smell. It hunts at night, using its nose to smell out prey in the darkness. Often, it waits in coral crevices for a passing meal – maybe a small octopus or a fish – then it darts out, clamping razor sharp teeth around its prey. Little by little, it forces the meal down its throat, then ties a knot in its long body, squeezing its prey until it’s digested. Yum!

In addition to coral camouflage, the dragon moray eel also eludes predators with a thick coating of mucus all over its body. This makes catching it especially difficult, even when a predator does try to take hold.

Dragon moray eels can grow up to 36 inches long, and their flexible bodies allow them to snake around, over and under reefs on the ocean floor. They prefer reefs found from 25 to 150 feet underwater.

Starting as one of about 10,000 eggs laid into the water, a larval Moray Eel will hatch and drift for 1-3 years before settling on a reef and beginning to mature. At around 5 years of age it will mate, females will lay their eggs, and then die.


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