Moray Eels on the Hunt

A few days ago, a friend asked if I ever observed a fish eat another fish while on a dive. “Of course“, I answered. And I continued to elaborated that I have witnessed and captured on video several fish during their natural predation. I have also watched shark feedings in the Sint Maarten, Bahamas and Mexico but that’s not that interesting. It’s far more exciting to stumble upon a fish hunting in their natural environment without an human intervention.

A Spotted Moray Eel Hunting in Bonaire

Spotted Moray Eel on a prosperous hunt in Bonaire

During my first scuba diving trip to Bonaire in the Caribbean. I observed a Spotted Moray Eel hunt during several night dives. I decided to spent each night waiting for the Eel to capture its prey or until my air supply ran out. In the video, you’ll see the Eel missed its first target and later lock onto a new target. Finally, I was able to catch the Eel successfully capture an unlucky Damselfish. I shot the above underwater video on a Gopro Hero and I was between 70-90 ft. We entered the water after dinner, around 9pm-ish each night.

Moray Eels are cosmopolitan, found in both tropical and temperate seas. Although the largest species richness is on reefs in warm oceans. Very few species occur outside the tropics or subtropics, and the ones that do only extend marginally beyond these regions. They live at depths to several hundred feet, where they spend most of their time concealed inside crevices and alcoves.

The Spotted Moray Eel can grow to about 7 ft. They inhabit the Western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina and Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They are also found around the Mid- and Eastern Atlantic islands as far south as St Helena. They are typically found anywhere from the surface to a depth of 660 ft.

Bonaire is an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Together with Aruba and Curacao, it forms the group known as the ABC islands, located off the north coast of South America near the western part of Venezuela.

A Jeweled Moray Eel Hunting in Mexico

Jeweled Moray Eel successfully hunting off the coast of La Paz, Mexico

During a dive trip to La Paz, Mexico we were heading towards one of the Sea Lion colonies and witness the above Jeweled Moray Eel capture its prey. The Eel was aggressively sticking its head into holes in the reef. Within a matter of minutes, the Eel found its breakfast. We were in about 40-50 ft. of water around 10am. Jeweled Moray Eels are mostly nocturnal predators so I was pretty lucky to see this action in the morning.

The Jeweled Moray Eel is mostly found in Eastern Pacific waters. They mostly dwell in the Gulf of California and south throughout Central America. It’s average length is about 2 ft. The Eels have been observed feeding on fish, crustaceans or other eels that it can swallow.

I shot both of these underwater videos with a Gopro Hero 4 Silver. Although I am currently shooting with a Gopro Hero 8 Black, the Hero 4 Silver is my favorite. I still own and use it but mostly on land now. Here’s a link to my underwater set-up.

8 thoughts on “Moray Eels on the Hunt

  1. On that morning dive my first attempt at the art of lobster hunting I had spotted one underneath a den staring back at me, waving its long, pointy antennas. Lobsters can t see clear images or colors; antennas are their main sensory organs. Excited, I threw my hand inside the crevice and only managed to touch the antennas before the red creature burrowed itself deep underneath the rock. Immediately, a moray eel poked its head out and I jumped back, conceding defeat.

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