Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dragon Moray Eel

Enchelycore pardalis  is a rather attractive, yet aggressive little fellow found throughout the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. They are also known as Leopard Moray Eels and Japanese Dragon Eels, and are members of the 200+ species family Muraenidae. They live in caves and coral reef areas where the can remain hidden while hunting. Dragon Morays can grow almost a meter in length, which is pretty small when compared to the largest of the Morays, the Giant Moray, which can reach lengths of 2.5meters.

Dragon Moray Eels have (in my opinion) some lovely coloration.Their bodies are covered in patterns orange, yellow, white, and black. They even have horns! Though they aren't really horns. They are actually nostrils! Dragon Morays use their sense of smell to hunt, and they snack on crustaceans, fish, and even octopuses! Basically, if they can fit it in their mouths, they'll eat it. They also have teeth that act like traps, due to their backwards positioning. This makes it extremely difficult for the prey to wiggle free. All food gets repositioned so that it can go down the throat head first. After swallowing, the eels practice a behavior called knotting, which means that the Eel makes a loop out of its own body, knotting itself up. This helps to smash around the meals that are moving through their digestive system.

One interesting tidbit about the Dragon Moray Eel is that they are protogynous hermaphrodites. (Gotta remember to add that one to the glossary) This means that they have reproductive organs of both sexes, and that eels that start off as female have the ability to change sexes if there are two few males in the local population.

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