Though you may not realize it, tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Hawaii's reefs are more than forty species of moray eels. If you're lucky, you'll see the snout of one as it guards its den, oftentimes with its mouth agape. This promotes water circulation over its gills, which are but a small hole on the side. These sly and shy bony fish are some of the reef's top predators, slithering out of their hiding places to hunt at night, though some species, such as the snowflake moray, will venture out during the day. Without pelvic and pectoral fins, locomotion is achieved by a serpentine undulation of their bodies. Some morays eat fish, octopi and the like, others prefer crustaceans, and their anatomies are adapted for this variation in diet. The fish-eating morays have a longer snout and backward curving teeth; the crustacean-eaters have a blunter snout and nubbier teeth better suited for crunching and munching.
While eels have a fearsome reputation, they are not generally aggressive unless you disturb them in their den, and if bitten by a fish-eating moray, the wound can be serious due to the curve of the teeth. If you do any spearfishing, though, you may encounter one of the larger and more common eels, the Yellowmargin moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus. The Waikiki Aquarium's fact sheet on this eel, known as the puhi-paka, or fierce eel, reports that they show a particular interest in injured fish, and have been known to investigate the goings-on of spearfishermen.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.