9 Jun 2012

Mystery Fish for WOD

Happy World Oceans Day!!! 

Shall we have a lovely little fishy celebration? ;o)

Over the past several days I've been leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to help you figure out whom I've chosen to celebrate WOD:
  • 1. I'm a marine fish (although some people might think I don't look like one)
  • 2. I can been found in deep and shallow and warm and temperate waters all over the world
  • 3. I've got a mouthful of teeth and my bite can have very nasty consequences
  • 4. But I'm shy so if I bite you it was probably your fault! (see story here)
  • 5. I'm usually nocturnal. That means I prefer coming out of my hiding place (in crevices or holes) at night to look for food.
  • 6. I rely on my sense of smell to find my prey, so if you're a stinky dead critter all the better for me! I help clean up the sea bottom of rotting corpses. But I also hunt for small tasty critters to munch on! ;o) 
  • 7. I'm part of a big family: around 200 species ranging in size from 10 cm to over 2 m in length and many different possible colours.
  • 8. We might vary in size and colour, but we pretty much all have an elongated body which flattens a bit towards the end and we have a single dorsal fin and a ventral fin.

Here's my ID card:
from Wikipedia


from Enchanted Learning
Mediterranean moray eels. Top photo taken in the Liège Aquarium, bottom in the Marine Reserve of Tabarca in the bay of Alicante.

Answers started out nowhere close (barracuda, black ghost fish) but Louie closed in on it by the third day! She said eel... which is very close (they belong to the same taxonomic Order, but different family) and could have been correct if it weren't for the mouthful of teeth and dangerous bite. Oh and the villains in The Little Mermaid were MORAY eels, not eels! Plus I would have listed as clues the fact that they are eaten in many parts of the world and that many species are catadromous, which means they spend most of their life in freshwater and only return to the sea to spawn. Oh, and I've mentioned quite a few of these facts in a couple editions of Fishy Fridays (nasty bite because of mouthful of needle-like curved teeth, lots of bacteria in mouth so infected wound)... But it's true that Moray Eels and Eels look a lot alike because of convergent evolution. This means that unrelated species have evolved towards a similar shape or environmental adaptation (like wings present in birds and bats). In fact, several other species of fish also share this eel-like and they're described as being anguiliform which translates as "shape of an eel" (from the latin Anguila a.k.a. eel).

I'm quite fond of moray eels because in my first recreational dive (after 4 weeks of 'technical' training dives) the first fish I saw as I dropped down towards the sea bed was precisely a Mediterranean moray eel (Muraena helena) swimming just beneath me! At the time I didn't have prescription lenses in my dive mask so my vision wasn't all that great, and all I really saw was a snake-shaped thing swimming just below my legs. Gut reaction? Fold up my legs under me and get really nervous!!! But then apparently so was he (nervous), 'cause by the time the next diver reached me he had skedaddled! :p  Nowadays it's a rare dive when I don't catch sight of at least one of these guys peaking out of a crevice amongst the rocks! If I'm lucky (and I go diving in the marine reserve) I might actually see one swimming amongst the Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds! (which still kind of makes me nervous, lol!) One of the reasons they look scary is that they've always got their mouths open, so it looks like they're ready (and waiting!) to take a bit out of you! When in reality, they've just got them open to guarantee water flow over their gills so they can breathe! :p

As I said in the clues, there are over 200 species of varying sizes and colours, here are two more:
don't remember his name! taken in the Liège Aquarium
Green Moray eel, taken in the Liège Aquarium

This post was put together to celebrate World Oceans Day and to participate in the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon! Go check it out and see what other participants have written. And better yet, write something fishy and join in yourself! ;o)

Info from:
Fishy Friday episodes 7+10
Map of Life - Moray eels


  1. I followed the clues but really didn't have a CLUE what it was. I am so happy to finally learn what you were leading me to. I am so sorry I didn't do a WOD post, Cris, but I know you will forgive me. I've been a bit on the busy side, not as busy as YOU, but close! :-)

  2. Really interesting post and a fun little game.


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)