Similan Islands Marine Life – Eels!

EELS of the Similan Islands

Ribbon Eel
Rhinomuraena quaesita

The Ribbon Eel can easily be recognized by its hugely expanded anterior nostrils.

Juveniles and subadults are jet black with a yellow dorsal fin. Females are yellow with a black anal fin and white margins on the fins. Adult males are blue with much of the snout and lower jaw yellow.

The species grows to 1.3 m in length.

It is usually seen in burrows in sandy or benthic areas adjacent to coral reefs.

The Ribbon Eel occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-west Pacific.

In Australia it is known from the offshore islands of north-western Western Australia and the Barrier Reef, Queensland.

It has also been called the Ribbon Moray.

snowflake moray

The snowflake moray is found between rocks and corals of intertidal reef flats, and also in shallow lagoon and seaward reefs. It feeds mainly on crustaceans.

Coloration is a white body with two rows of large dendritic black blotches, the black spots between blotches become irregularly linear with age. The eyes are yellow.he snowflake moray eel is a very commonly kept saltwater eel. They are very hardy and well-suited to aquarium life. Up to 36″ in length (while 28″ is more common in captivity), the snowflake moray eel requires an aquarium larger than 50 gallons with a tight-fitting lid, as these eels (and all eels, for that matter) are escape artists and can fit through surprisingly small holes in aquarium lids. They are carnivores, readily accepting just about any meaty foods, including krill, shrimp, silversides and octopus meat. Unless already acclimated to frozen foods, this animal will likely need to be fed with live ghost shrimp when first acquired. Weaning can be accomplished over time. The feeding of freshwater feeder fish (goldfish, rosy reds, etc) will likely cause liver disease if fed to the eel, so they must be avoided.

Gymnothorax thyrsoideus

White-eyed moray eel

Fairly common inhabitant of reef flats where it is usually encountered in shallow tidal pools. Often in shipwrecks; usually in pairs or small aggregations, and shares habitat with other morays

Fimbriate Moray
Gymnothorax fimbriatus (Bennett, 1832)

Fimbriate Moray
A Fimbriate Moray at a depth of 7 m, Puerto Galera, Mindoro Island, Philippines
Fimbriate Moray jaw
Parasitic copepods, possibly of the Order Cyclopoida on the lower jaw. Photo © R. Andrewartha.

The Fimbriate Moray is grey to light brown with rows of well separated dark brown blotches. The head is greenish-yellow dorsally. There is a large white spot at the rear of the lower jaw. A row of large canine teeth runs along the roof of the mouth.

The species grows to about 80 cm in length.

The Fimbriate Moray occurs in coral reef and inshore waters of the tropical Indo-west Pacific.

The laced moray, Gymnothorax favagineus, also known as the tesselate moray honeycomb moray

Basically white with black blotches and interspaces forming a honeycomb pattern. Some individuals have a near black overall appearance. Blotches variable between individuals and size, often in relation to habitat – those in clear coral reefs usually have proportionally less black than those found in turbid waters.

inhabits reef flats and outer reef slopes of continental reefs. One of the two largest of Indo-Pacific morays. Often in holes with cleaner wrasses or shrimps. Feeds on cephalopods and small fishes. Large adults may be aggressive.

Spotted Garden Eel
Heteroconger hass

The Spotted Garden Eel has a white body covered in small black spots. There are three prominent black patches located on the body. One surrounds the gill opening and pectoral fin, the second is half way along the body and the third surrounds the anus. Juveniles are entirely black.

This species grows to 60cm in length.

It is usually seen on sandy bottoms near coral reefs at depths of 15m to 45m.

The Spotted Garden Eel was not discovered until SCUBA diving became popular. Since then colonies of hundreds or thousands of individuals have been reported.

This fish lives in sandy burrows, which they construct. When feeding, the Spotted Garden Eel rises out of its burrow, exposing up to two-thirds of its body. It feeds on zooplankton taken from the passing current.

When disturbed the Spotted Garden Eel retreats backwards into the burrow.

Spotted Garden Eels stay in their burrow even when spawning. Potential mates stretch over from adjacent burrows and entwine bodies.

This species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific region, from East Africa, north to Japan, south to New Caledonia and east to the Pitcairn Islands.

Giant Moray
Gymnothorax javanicus

The Giant Moray is mostly brown with dark brown spots. The head is yellow to brown and the gill opening is surrounded by a black blotch.

The Giant Moray is normally not a concern for divers, however it should never be provoked. It is a large, powerful fish with long canine teeth that can inflict serious wounds.


Gymnothorax javanicus (Bleeker, 1859)
Thick as a man’s thigh and attaining nearly 8 ft., this is the largest of all morays. Unconfirmed reports exist of 10-foot specimens weighing an estimated 150 lbs.! In Hawai`i these eels are often called “Java Morays.” They are brown to greenish brown speckled with dark spots and there is a large dark mark at the gill opening. This species somewhat resembles the more common Yellowmargin Moray but the latter is finely mottled rather than spotted. Also, the Giant Moray’s tail is plain, with no yellow or green margin. The Giant Moray ranges from East Africa to Costa Rica’s Cocos Island. Common on the Similan Islands

The Giant Moray is normally not a concern for divers, however it should never be provoked. It is a large, powerful fish with long canine teeth that can inflict serious wounds.


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