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liquidguru

Info on this transparent juvenile moray eel please.

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We found this critter on our house reef. I know it's some sort of juvenile moray, but some more information would be appreciated

 

2011_34_9.jpg

 

2011_34_6.jpg

 

2011_34_3.jpg

 

I presume that in the next photo you can see the feather-like structures in it's nose?

 

2011_34_31.jpg

 

And some video here:

 

[vimeohd]27967669[/vimeohd]

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Basically they can only be identified by an expert or someone willing to puzzle his way through a scientific key. Two of the important characters are the number of muscle groups and arrangement of pigment spots, plus comparative ratios of one body part to another.

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Basically they can only be identified by an expert or someone willing to puzzle his way through a scientific key. Two of the important characters are the number of muscle groups and arrangement of pigment spots, plus comparative ratios of one body part to another.

 

Thanks Leslie. So there are experts on these somewhere?

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Ooo, nice shots Barb! Specially the first one...

There was a thread on one of these several years ago... No idea how to find it though, did you do a search?

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Thanks Leslie. So there are experts on these somewhere?

 

Yup. If you really want to give it a try contact Rocha here on WP. He can give you some names or links to keys or he might say that without a nicely preserved specimen there's no way to id it.

 

Drew had a thread going a year or two ago. He had a greenish one and really wanted it to be a larval green moray. When I showed his pic to the fish guys here at my museum & asked for an id they just laughed.

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As Leslie says, you can only identify those if you have the specimen at hand to look at it in a lot of detail. Those larvae are called Leptocephalus, and all morays are like that. Other fish that have Leptocephalus larvae are bonefish and tarpon.

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As Leslie says, you can only identify those if you have the specimen at hand to look at it in a lot of detail. Those larvae are called Leptocephalus, and all morays are like that. Other fish that have Leptocephalus larvae are bonefish and tarpon.

 

Thanks for the reply. So it could be any moray? It's seems surprising that with the large amount of morays we get in Lembeh, that we do not see these larvae more often.

 

Kaj

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It was about 30cm to 40cm long, about 4cm or 5cm high at it's widest point and a few mm thick.

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The reason you don't see them more often (or at all in some places) is that they are very vulnerable to predation at this stage, so it is a very short stage. We call it the settlement stage. Morays (like most reef fish) have a pelagic larval stage, when the transparent larvae stay up to three months in the open ocean, followed by a sedentary adult stage, when juveniles and adults stay close to their reefs. Larvae don't swim well and are small, so any predator can snatch them. Juveniles and adults have their ways to protect themselves. So one of the most dangerous portions of an eel's (and any fish) life is when they are transforming from larvae to sedentary juvenile. This phase only lasts for 2-3 days, and that's the phase where you caught this fish. In addition, because they are so vulnerable, they are also very secretive, so it was really lucky for you to find it swimming in the open like that.

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Many thanks for this information. Only two or three days like this?? Wow, what a strange evolutionary quirk!!

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Yes, they stay longer like this in the open water, but only approach the bottom when it is time to settle, what takes 2-3 days typically. So, great find!

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