Every time I go to Hanauma Bay it seems that I encounter different marine life.  Either I really pay attention to a certain fish for the first time or something really knocks my socks off.  This time it was Yellowmargin Moray Eel.

The moray eel is seen in many places around the Hawaiian Islands but the yellowmargin may be the most common.

Facts About the Yellowmargin Moray Eel

  • Size:  Up to 4 feet (1.2 meters)
  • Scientific Name:  Gymnothorax flavimarginatus
  • Common Diet:  Reef Fish
  • Hawaiian Name:  Puhi Paka
  • Known Locations:  All over the Hawaiian Islands

moray-eel-yellowmarginHawaii is home and sanctuary for all sorts of eels and morays come in different shapes and sizes.  The yellowmargin moray eel, and all moray eels around the islands, play an important role as a predator in Hawaii.  Their bodies are snakelike and streamlined for attack and allow them to slink in and out of crevices to hunt and attack the reef fish.

The moray eels are pretty jacked when it comes to their predatory ability.  The genu of eels that are Gymnothorax have powerful jaws and fanged teeth that are used to hold on and tear fish apart.  They are also handy during the initial strike.

Morays, in my opinion, have an ugly, fierce appearance.  Those eyes sit too closely on the top of the head to really trust. While most moray eels are passive and won’t attack humans, the do defend their territory and the shelters they find in the Hawaiian reefs.  Make sure that if you’re diving or snorkeling that you don’t reach into reef holes and crevices because a moray eel will attack your hand or feet if they feel threatened.  Their teeth will leave jagged wounds that are apt to become infected.  The best practice with morays is to keep a wide birth while you appreciate their majesty, snap a picture and move on.

Called puhi paka in Hawaiian, the yellowmargin moray eel is the  really common in Hawaii waters and will often leave the shelter of reef crevices and holes even during the day to investigate and try to get a piece of a speared reef fish or a struggling netted one.  For this reason, the yellowmargin may present the realest danger to humans out of all of the Hawaiian morays.