Saturday, April 08, 2006
I was looking through some old pics this evening and I saw this guy. I like the green head and odd shaped jaw. Not all of them have quite this much character. This is an Undulate Moray (Gymnothorax undulatus).
We don't see them all that often during the day, but they are one of the predominant eels we see on the reef on the night dives. They actively feed at night and we do often see them at the manta sites. It's part of the briefing to tell you to expect to see them and don't freak if they go across your leg or park on your arm looking for fish attracted to your flashlight, as far as they are concerned you are "eel furniture".
Watching these guys hunt is often a highlight of the dive. The mostly hunt by scent and will poke around trying to find a sleeping fish, usually tangs. When they get right next to a fish they will strike, usually missing 4 out of 5 times or so. When they do catch a fish it's often what you'd consider to be in the wrong direction. They usually catch the fish vertically between their jaws. Generally the fish is too large to swallow and they have a magnificient way of dealing with that... they will tie their body in a knot and back their head through the knot rapidly. Usually in about 3-5 quick pulls through the knot, the fish will basically explode and fold in half and it can swallow it down. Sounds gross, but even people who claim to be "afraid" of eels are facinated by it when they see it.
We got the boat back in running shape today. Hopefully it's good to go for a year or two without much downtime. Pat and I are going to spend a few hours tomorrow cleaning (ok, taking it out to play) and then I've got charters lined up starting tomorrow night (just got the call minutes ago).