Moray Eel Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Lurking in the rocky cracks and crevices of the ocean shoreline is a long, snake-like fish. Do you know what this fish is called? It is the moray eel. Learn about the life and unusual features of this vicious-looking predator of the sea.

What is a Moray Eel?

You're about to learn about a scary looking creature shaped like a snake, has a fin that runs down its back, and sharp teeth that it uses to grab unsuspecting prey. This creature is not some alien from outer space; it's the moray eel, which is a long, skinny fish that lives in the ocean.

What Does A Moray Eel Look Like?

The size of the moray eel will vary depending on the species, but a typical species can grow to be about 13 feet long. That's about three times as long as three, fifth graders standing on each other's shoulders.

Moray eels have long and skinny bodies.
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The color of the eel will also vary by species, but many are colorful. One species called the green moray eel, is bluish-brown in color. The slimy yellow mucus that covers its body blends with its natural skin color to make it look green.

Unlike other fish, the moray eel does not have fins on the sides of its body, so it looks more like a snake than a fish as it wiggles through the water. The fin on top of the eel starts just behind its head and runs all the way down its narrow body to join the fin at its tail.

The moray eel has two sets of jaws.
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If the eel's snake-like body is not enough to scare you, its vicious-looking mouth certainly will do the trick! The moray eel has two sets of jaws. The first set has big, sharp teeth that it uses to grab the prey. The second pair of jaws is in the eel's throat. This set is used to pull its prey in and swallow it.

The Habitat and Diet of the Moray Eel

Most moray eels live in the warmer ocean waters of the world. They are nocturnal feeders, meaning they like to eat and be active at night. Their favorite foods are fish, crabs, octopuses, and squid.

Despite their aggressive look, moray eels don't chase after their prey. They are very shy. The eels prefer to hide between rocks or in coral reefs and wait for their prey to swim within striking distance.

Some moray eels have big eyes, but they cannot see very well. They use their strong sense of smell to locate prey.

This moray eel is getting a dental cleaning by the cleaner shrimp inside its mouth.
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