|Image: California Academy of Sciences|
They look so angry and spiteful and haggard. That's 3 of my favourite things right there! Beady eyes. Sharp teeth. Wibbly-wobbly throat. Oh come on, now you're just spoiling me!
Morays are real and proper eels. They are mostly found in coral reefs, but some live in subtropical areas and a few can survive brackish or even freshwater environments.
It's the coral reefs that are their true domain, though. Many are active contributors to the vibrant beauty of their tropical homes - Morays can come in all sorts of wondrous colours and patterns that bedeck their serpentine body and faintly psychotic face.
The rest of the body can range between 11.5 centimetres (4.5 in) and a frightful 4 metres (13 ft) in length.
There are no scales, just thick skin covered in an occasionally toxic mucus. One fin runs along their back, around the tail and along the underside. Many Morays have no other fins at all.
Morays are more often ambush hunters, at least in the day. Waiting in their lair, glowering at the outside world, they lunge at unfortunate bystanders as they bystand about and do their bystanding thing.
Morays tend not to see so much as smell. This is why hand-feeding a Moray is a bad idea if you've grown accustomed to your hand. Moray teeth are made to cut. Morays like food and they like their dark and foreboding home. Offering them finger food or interfering with their fortress may well provide you with an interesting story about where your finger went. Every cloud has a silver lining...
You see, Morays don't store a load of flab in there. They store another set of jaws. While the big, obvious ones are doing the whole cutting shenanigans, the ones in the neck lunge out and grab hold of prey. They then pull this morsel down into the throat to continue on its grand voyage to the "Other Side". By which I mean the anus. Yeh, sometimes I'm just too sentimental for my own good.
|Image: shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific online information system|