09 October 2009

Moray eel in action!

I saw a Moray eel hunt and catch its prey!
The handsome Brown-spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax reevesii) is commonly seen on Tanah Merah.

At first, all I saw was a bit of the tail among the seaweeds. Then a bit of the head.
Just when I thought I wouldn't see much more of it, it snaked out of hiding and lunged towards a crevice among the rocks.
It stuck its head right into the hole.
And pulled out with something in its mouth.
I only got this one shot of it with the fish in its mouth. The prey was swallowed almost instantly!
A moray eel has a special trick up its throat to help it swallow prey. Lots of fish have a second set of jaws, but these tend to be hard grinding plates or jaws with little teeth that don't move much. The moray eel's second set of jaws, on the other hand, is armed with large, curved teeth and powered by elongated muscles that allow for extreme mobility. These reach forward to seize and drag prey into the eel's throat. Here's my last glimpse of its tail as it slunk off back into hiding. Wow! That was quite exciting!
Tanah Merah is a great place to observe and spot fishes. Many, however, are well camouflaged. Like this very pretty dragonet with a mosaic pattern (Family Callionymidae). This one seems to have 'lipstick' around its mouth and yellow eyes.
The sand is teeming with all kinds of gobies (Family Gobiidae), small and large.
A large camouflaged fish that we often see here is the Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpanea picta). It has huge bulging eyes, and large scales. The large mouth is horizontal.
Here's another Painted scorpionfish. They come in various camouflaging colours and patterns.
But here's a fish that seems similar to the Painted scorpionfish in size, and yet different. It looks like a short and rather rounded flathead (Family Platycephalidae). I have no idea what it is.
Filefishes (Family Monacanthidae) are also common here, although hard to spot as they blend well with the seaweeds.
Here's another kind of filefish. I'm still struggling with differentiating these fishes.
Other fishes resemble sticks, like this twig-like halfbeak.
I've also been regularly seeing the Freckled goatfish (Upeneus tragula) on this shore. This one was quite large (about 10cm long).
But there are also lots of colourful fishes darting among the crevices in the rocks. Here's one with pretty yellow lines. I don't know what it is.
There are a lot of these blue fishes there too. I think it is a Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
And I saw one small Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus).
Alas, there was one large injured fish swimming in the shallow water. It might be a sea bass.
Marcus also spotted a Razorfish (Family Centriscidae). As well as a Remora, a kind of fish that often sticks to sharks and large fishes. James saw a Blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma) and other amazing fishes. Wow!

Tanah Merah sure is a fishy place!

I also saw lots of other interesting animals there.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! Tanah Merah never fails to surprise us.

    You're really fortunate to have been able to capture the images of the moray eel catching its prey. I saw an estuarine moray snatch the fish the other time in June, but it was too quick for my camera.

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