Species diversity and abundance of Moray Eels (Family: Muraenidae) in Western Bonaire

The estimated number of species of Moray Eels (Family: Muraenidae) worldwide is around 200. A majority of morays hide in crevices and holes during the day, but come out to forage at night. The amount of activity during the day and night differs between species. Some are strictly nocturnal or diurnal while others are equally present during both times. Morays are generally piscivores and have large impacts on the biomass of reef fishes due to their maneuverability. In some studies, morays have been found to have the largest impact out of all other piscivores regarding the quantity of fishes consumed. In this study we dove at 15 m for 45 min during the day and at sunset three times each (six dives total). We also snorkeled the same distance covered while diving, but shallower along the shoreline. The number and species of moray within a 2-m band while diving and a 1m band while snorkeling were recorded. Spotted morays were the most common species seen overall (87.3% of all morays recorded). The density of morays was the highest while snorkeling (1.38 ± 0.77/10 m2 ). The density of morays while snorkeling was roughly 10 times greater than the day dives and almost 14 times greater than the sunset dives. Smaller morays were seen in the shallows while snorkeling and larger morays were seen while diving. The high number of small morays seen shallower indicates that morays may use shallow habitats as juveniles and move deeper on the reef once they mature and can consume larger prey.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XVIII (Fall 2015)19: 21-26 from CIEE Bonaire.

Back to search results