Scuba Diving: Moray eels have voracious appetites

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A California Moray Eel during daylight: Location-Long Point, Catalina Island, California. Photo by our very own underwater photographer/columnist Wade McDonald

Throughout the world there are nearly 200 different species of “moray eels” Living in both fresh and salt water habitats.

This week we will be learning a little about an interesting critter that lives right here in our local waters around Catalina Island.

The California Moray Eel can be found from Point Conception, all the way down south to Baja Sur, California.

They can easily live to be more than 20 years old.

During the daytime they hide inside rocky crevices as well as artificial reefs such as sunken boats and other types of debris.

As nighttime descends they come out into open water to prowl the reef looking for a meal.

They are considered to be “predatory carnivores” with their diet consisting of fish, mollusks, octopuses and various types of invertabrates.

Although morays have poor eyesight, they easily compensate for it with their keen ability to sniff out their prey and rip them apart with their powerful jaws and sharp teeth.

Unlike fish, moray eels do not have any gill covers.

Instead they must constantly open and close their mouths to properly breath. This often intimidates divers and snorkelers that just don’t know any better.

Don’t worry. Moray eels aren’t gesturing that they want to take a bite out of you, they are just breathing!

But remember to never reach into crevices or areas that you can not see because the moray can’t see very well and invading their space is NEVER a good idea!

During reproductive periods their eggs are hatched into larvae drifting for months at a time.

Researchers believe that the waters here in Southern California are a tad too cold for this spawning to occur, which might explain why nearly all California Moray Eels actually start their life cycle in warmer mexican waters located primarily in Baja before drifting north with the currents into our local waters. …

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend here on the Island so lets take a look at our official marine forecast now, shall we? … Expect a temperature high of 67 degrees, dipping down early morning to 57 degrees. Scattered clouds are expected to slowly clear to make way for plenty of sunshine.

So get out there and get your vitamin D! And don’t forget your sunscreen!

Always remember to check current weather conditions when planning your activities around the water. Know your limitations and swim near a lifeguard when possible, When In Doubt Don’t Go Out!

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