Eel Using Coral as Camouflage, Barbados Pocket Guide


Throughout the world's oceans, an estimated 100 or more species of eels can be found but only a mere 15 species can be found throughout the Caribbean Sea. Barbados has not been omitted from this Caribbean statistics as divers, both beginners and experienced, are always more than eager to catch a glimpse of what are oceans have to offer.


Conger Eel

Clearly this name given to this eel by the people of Barbados, is by no means a correct name as this species is not a Conger eel but rather, a spotted moray eel.



This species of eel has a narrow head, a long snake-like body with a coloration of off-white and small overlapping dark-brown, camouflaging spots. This spotted moray eel can be found in rocky areas in shallow water where they have a preference for sticking out their heads. During the day, this nocturnal and solitary creature resides among coral reefs but at night time comes out to eat.


Their serpent-like semblance is ably aided by their lack of pectoral and pelvic fins and swaying movement throughout the waters. Their eyes are rather small and vision is not the best. For this reason, they heavily rely on their more than keen sense of smell to hunt and scavenge for small fish, crustaceans and shrimp.


Spotted morays eels are seen as vivious and easily angered creatures. Quite the opposite, as these shy creatures are in no way eager about the thought of socialising with human-beings. Aggressiveness on the parts these eels is as a result of burrow disturbance and possible hand-feeding by divers, hence the reason a ban has been implemented on the feeding of these eels in some places.


Jaw Anatomy

Spotte moray eels have an amazing jaw anatomy. Unlike most animals, these eels have two sets of jaws and are the only animal that uses pharyngeal jaws to aggressively apprehend prey. The second set of jaws in their throats are called pharyngeal jaws. Amazingly enough, these jaws also have teeth. The method used by morays to eat is by way of launching their jaws into the mouth. Prey is then seized and conveyed into the throat and digestive system.


Based on the makeup of their jaws, they cannot easily release their grip even in death and must be manually pried off.


Spotted morays eels have a barbaric and most powerfully structured biting mechanism that can cause severe harm to human-beings. Though, it is believed that a great majority are believed to be non-poisonous, comprehensive evidence may very well suggests a few species to be poisonous.


Reefs and Wrecks

On the island of Barbados, there are quite a few reefs and wrecks that are visited by experienced divers when on their diving expeditions. These are among the best times to get a glimpse of the moray eels on the island.


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