Muraena helena, the Mediterranean Moray (a.k.a. Roman Eel) is a fish of the moray eel family. It has an elongated, snake-like body and is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
The genus Muraena belongs to the family Muraenidae, order Anguilliformes, class Actinopterygii, phylum Chordata and kingdom Animalia.
The Mediterranean Moray can reach a length of 1.5 metres and weigh over 15 kilograms. Its coloration varies from dark grey to dark brown with fine dark spots. The skin is slimy and without scales. The dorsal fin begins behind its head and continues to the caudal fin (fused with the anal fin). Pectoral fins are absent, teeth are long and sharp-pointed (like other morays), while the mouth is long, robust and reaches behind the gills. It seldom attacks unless provoked.
Muraena helena prefers rocky bottoms and lives at depths ranging from 5 to 80 metres. It is a solitary, nocturnal and territorial species. The Mediterranean Moray spends most of the day in cavities and clefts between rocks and is more active at night. It hunts fish, crayfish 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 commonly found on the Mediterranean Moray.
The photo of this Mediterranean Moray was taken at a depth of 15m at Reqqa Point on Gozo’s north coast.
Photo taken by Brian Azzopardi