The Mediterranean Moray

Murena Muraena helena Muraenidae

The Mediterranean Moray, (Muraena Helena), is wide spread in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic (from the South of England to Senegal, including the coastal areas of the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde). There are scoliosiss or corals devoid of sedimentation and rich in ravines at depths between 5 and 50 meters. Juvenile individuals are often found in very low water.

Like all the anguilliforms the Moray has serpentiform body.

It feeds on fish, crustaceans and molluscs, especially cephalopods. Hunting at night meandering through the rocks and researching the prey with the very developed smell.

The Moray is a rather shy animal and if disturbed tends to flee inside the burrow or between the surrounding rocks; however it can attack even without being provoked because of its territoriality. It is particularly risky the habit of certain divers to offer food to moray eels with their hands. The bite of the Moray is very painful but it is not certain if there are toxins in the saliva. Toxins able to provoke hemolysis are certainly present in the blood of the Moray and numerous other anguilliforms such as eel and conger. These toxins, of a protein nature, are only active if they are introduced into the bloodstream of humans while they are harmless for ingestion. They are still inactivated by cooking.

La Murena mediterranea - The Mediterranean Moray - Muraena Helena -
La Murena mediterranea – The Mediterranean Moray – Muraena Helena –

La Murena è particolarmente apprezzata in cucina per le sue carni pregiate e raffinate. Tale apprezzamento risale addirittura all’antichità tanto che i romani avevano provveduto alla realizzazione di apposite vasche per l’allevamento chiamate “murenari” che solo le famiglie più facoltose potevano permettersi a causa dei costi di realizzazione e di manutenzione.

Circolano sul conto di questo animale dall’aspetto inquietante alcune leggende sinistre e del tutto irreali come, ad esempio, che nell’Antica Roma, dove le murene erano tra i pesci più apprezzati, i vivai di questi pesci venissero alimentati con carne umana.


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