Dragon Moray Eel
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Dragon Moray Eel|
Enchelycore pardalis (formerly Muraena pardalis)
In the inky darkness of night, dragon morays sniff out their prey. This fish has an excellent sense of smell. Hanging out in a reef cave, the dragon moray eel waits for a fish or octopus to swim by. Lunging out at the prey, this moray expands it mouth wide open to fit even the largest of animals. Razor-sharp backward pointing teeth trap the prey in the dragon moray’s mouth, making it impossible for the prey to escape.
Just like a dragon, this moray eel sports horns, which are really long nostrils located just in front of the eyes. Jagged teeth jut out of this dragon moray’s mouth adding to the descriptive name. This eel is also quite long—up to 3 feet (90 cm). Wild colors and patterns adorn the brownish-orange body that has small black and white spots and a head with white and orange stripes.
Unlike most other fish, moray eels don’t have scales. So to protect themselves against scrapes and parasites, they ooze a slimy coating of mucus over their thick muscular bodies.
Young dragon morays look very different from the adults. They are slimmer and the spots that cover the body are much larger.
Often nestled among the arms of branching corals or within caves and crevices, dragon morays live on rocky coral reefs at depths of 27 to 152 feet (8 to 60 m). These moray eels usually live alone, but sometimes a pair hides out in the same reef retreat.
The dragon moray lives in the warm parts of Pacific Ocean.
At rest, a dragon moray breathes through its mouth, flashing a set of sharp teeth. This fish may look mean, but it’s actually breathing. Dragon morays attack only when hungry or provoked—and they prefer fish and octopuses. Dwelling in reef holes and crevices, dragon morays wait, heads poking out, ready to lunge at unsuspecting prey.
Hunting at night, the dragon moray sniffs out its prey. Finding fish and octopuses in the dark is no problem for these eels, thanks to their excellent sense of smell. The dragon moray’s numerous teeth are so big, this fish can barely close its mouth. These sharp razor-sharp teeth face backwards, creating a trap that makes it all but impossible for prey to wriggle free. With a huge expandable mouth, the dragon moray will eat any large animal, as long as it can fit into its jaw.
Once inside the mouth, the dragon moray rotates its prey around so the animal slides down the moray’s throat head first. This keeps a fish’s sharp fin spines from piercing the throat. After swallowing the animal whole, the moray uses a behavior called knotting. Looping around twice, the moray then slips its head through the loops—like a big knot. This helps to squish up and stretch out the prey in its digestive system. Now there isn’t a big bulge in the moray’s throat from the fish or octopus that was eaten.
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Beautiful colors, beautiful picture
I can easily see a Chinese dragon in this shot. I wonder if this is where they got the original idea for their dragon costumes??
Very colourful and good POV.
Wonderfull picture. !!! LOve the colours, it is very bright ! love the patterns on the body Well done on the compo too.. Very good!!
- [2005-06-02 13:26]
Manyee, another stunning shot. I do enjoy it. To me, a different creature; an exotic one.
Excellent colors, sharpness and composition.