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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
Tropical Diver Gallery

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from New Jersey to Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico, south to Brazil; Eastern Atlantic around the Ascension Islands.
  • Found in tropical waters near coral reefs, rocky shorelines and mangroves, often seen with only the head poking out from a crevice, hole or ledge, in depths up to 164 feet (50 m). Commonly in depths less than 98 feet (30 m).
 

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is dark brown to green; body is elongated, muscular and snakelike with a continuous dorsal, caudal and anal fin. Lacks pectoral and pelvic fins.
  • Covered in layer of yellow mucus to protect against parasites.
  • Large mouth with many teeth. Teeth are large with smooth edges. Pharyngeal teeth located in the throat which can move forward into the mouth.
  • Common length: 4.9 feet (1.5 m); maximum length is 8.2 feet (2.5 m); maximum weight is 63.9 lbs. (29.0 kg)

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet mainly consists of crustaceans and fishes.
  • Nocturnal hunter.
  • May wrap itself in the shape of a knot around prey to pull it into smaller pieces. 

Reproduction / Growth

  • Oviparous, or egg-laying.
  • Transparent, leaf-like larval stage called a “leptocephalus.”

 

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the “green conger.”
  • Solitary and aggressive species.
  • Sense of smell used to locate prey and spawning site.
  • One of the largest moray eel species.
  • Breathe by continuously opening their mouths to pump water over their gills, contributing to their threatening appearance.
  • Used as food in some parts of the world, though large individuals may be toxic.

Sources

fishbase.org
animaldiversity.org
www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu