crabs and other crustaceans, clams and other molluscs, sea urchins
to 5 feet (1.5 m)
other moray eels and ribbon eels; Family: Muraenidae
Red Sea to Panama to the Hawaiian Islands
Shy and retiring, zebra morays hole up in crevices and under ledges on the wave-swept outer edges of coral reefs. At night they come out to hunt, prowling the reefs in search of crabs, clams and other hard-shelled prey. Their teeth tell the tale of their diet. While some morays have sharp, pointed teeth for grabbing and holding on to fishes and other slippery prey, zebra morays have flat, platelike teeth, perfect for crunching hard shells.
Coral reefs around the world are in danger. Silt (fine soil) smothers coral when it washes off the land from farm fields, roads and building sites. More towns and resorts near shore mean more sewage, oil and chemicals in the water. Global warming and changes in weather patterns create conditions that corals can't survive.
Tucked into crevices with only their heads sticking out, moray eels look menacing as they constantly open and close their mouths. But they're not making threats, that's just how they breathe.