Green Moray Eel

One of the creepier looking sea creatures you may encounter while you enjoy Key West diving is the green moray eel (Gymnothorax funebris). Although many people are afraid of these scaleless creatures because of their menacing looking teeth and prehistoric, sea serpent look, they are actually solitary critters that like to hide among the coral reefs and rocky crevices during the day.

When diving in Key West waters, you have little to fear from the green moray eel’s sharp teeth, which it displays continuously as it opens and closes its mouth to breathe. This motion sends water over its gills and then out through holes in the back of the head. Even the animal’s eating habits are not overly aggressive. In fact, the eel is so lazy it waits until its preferred food selectionsandmdash;fish, shrimp, crab, and octopusandmdash;swim by before it dines during daylight hours. At night, however, the eel is much more apt to venture out to look for a tasty morsel.

Despite its name, the green moray eel is brown. The green designation comes from the fact that the yellow mucus covering the animal’s body blends with the brown to result in a greenish tint. True to the definition of an eel, however, this creature is without both pelvic and pectoral fins and has what appears to be one fin that runs along the entire length of the top of the body and part of the way underneath as well.

When you combine all the abovenamed traits, you have a sea animal with an intriguing look and attitude. While Key West diving, here’s hoping you meet the green moray eel.