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Moray Eels

Moray eels are the most common type of tropical eels. They live in rock and reef areas. Their bodies are long and narrow like snakes, and they have sharp teeth. Most of them reach a maximum length of 4 or 5 feet, but occasionally giant eels 10 feet long have been found. They usually hide in rocks and coral during the daytime and come out at night to hunt for food.

Green Moray Eel
photo by Edmond L. Fisher,
Living Fishes of the World, p. 47

Dragon Moray Eel
photo by Douglas Faulkner,
Living Fishes of the World, p.44


What to do if a Moray Bites

1. When a moray bites a person, in many cases the moray won't let go. Pulling hard on the moray will just tear the person's skin. Instead, you should try to distract the moray or make it unconscious. One way is to offer it something more attractive to eat, such as a bait fish. Unfortunately, this rarely works if the eel is already out of the water. As a last resort, you may have to cut off its head or forcefully break its jaw.

2. Once the eel has been removed, carefully clean the person's puncture wounds. Remove any parts of teeth. Pour lots of fresh water with or without antiseptic solution over the wound. Do NOT sew or tape the wound closed.

3. This type of wound often gets infected, so you should see a doctor to find out if antibiotics are needed.



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