Large moray eel reeled in at Bedok Jetty


Ashley Tan | July 28, 2020, 06:22 PM

Singaporeans might be very familiar with wildlife like otters, wild boars and Sambar deer on our tiny island, but creatures of the ocean are much less visible and well-known.

Until someone reels one in, that is.

Unusual sighting

Anglers at Bedok Jetty recently caught a large moray eel.

Pictures of the long snake-like marine creature lying on the ground with its mouth agape were posted to Facebook.

Photo from Camila Tan / FB

While moray eels are not rare — they are not included among Singapore's list of threatened species — sightings are less common, according to local marine wildlife website Wild Singapore.

These eels tend to sequester themselves in crevices in coral reefs and rubble, and are nocturnal. Thus they are typically seen only at night.

Moray eels can be found in both freshwater and saltwater, and most species inhabit tropical waters.

Moray eels have two sets of jaws

From the photo, the moray eel looks like it has a particularly vicious set of teeth.

However, these eels typically prey on smaller creatures like fish, crustaceans, octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

Interestingly, moray eels have a second set of jaws in their throat (also known as pharyngeal jaws) which extend forward when they grab prey with their main jaws, to drag it back into their throat.

Diagram from Wikipedia

While bites from moray eels might cause infections due to the bacteria in their mouths, these marine creatures are usually docile and will only attack when provoked.

Some species of moray eels are sometimes harvested and sold in the aquarium trade as well.

Spotted moray eel in the Philippines. Photo from Wikipedia

1.5m-long moray eel found recently

Two species of moray eels were recently recorded — the Giant moray eel and Ringed moray eel — and were caught off St. John's Island and near Sembawang Park respectively.

The Giant moray eel specimen measured around 1.5m long and weighed about 7kg.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time uncommon marine life has been sighted or caught at Bedok Jetty.

Previous encounters saw bull sharks and eagle rays.

Top photo from Camila Tan.