Murena helena close encounter
We are 5/6 miles from the coast on a seabed that varies from 45 to 48 meters deep, where we met a beautiful Mediterranean moray, Muraena helena.
The seabed consists of some rock walls that alternate at various depths separated by the sand. As you can see, this moray has allowed itself to be very close by divers, and once again we want to dispel the belief that these animals are aggressive towards humans. Instead, they are rather curious like most fish, and if we always see it with the mouth open it is because the moray eels have no gill openings, they only have small caps through which to drain the water that comes from the mouth and crosses the gills.
This moray eel in particular shows a beautiful spotted livery with rather evident yellow spots, and has allowed itself to be filmed along its entire length. Rather strange because usually the moray eels live completely sheltered in their hole during the day, keeping only the head out. They are in fact nocturnal predators and rarely go out during the day to hunt. In our case we were therefore lucky and could therefore film it without too many problems.
Mediterranean moray (sometimes also called Roman eel, Muraena helena) is a fish of the moray eel family. It has a long eel-like body and is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Its bite can be dangerous to humans.
Appearance and characteristics
Muraena helena showing typical moray eel morphology: robust anguilliform shape, lack of pectoral fins and circular gill openings. The Mediterranean moray has an elongated, eel-like body and can reach a length of 1.5 meters and weigh over 15 kilograms. Its coloration varies from dark grey to dark brown with fine dark spots
Mediterranean moray spends most of the day in cavities and clefts between rocks and is more active at night. It hunts fishes, crayfishes and cephalopods, but also feeds on dead animals. The Mediterranean moray’s reproduction is not well known. They spawn about 60,000 eggs into open water, from which planktonic transparent leptocephali hatch. One parasitic crustacean, the trematode Folliculovarium mediterraneum and the flatworm Lecithochirium grandiporum are parasites of the Mediterranean moray.
The bite of the Mediterranean moray can be dangerous mainly due to the mildly toxic slime of its skin. It can be utilized fresh and eaten broiled, boiled and baked. The skin can be used for leather.