Diving With Aliens, Really?
Ridley Scott’s alien monster has had people hiding behind the couch for over 30 years. In Phuket we scuba dive everyday with an animal that has the same fearsome set of double jaws. Luckily the penchant for snacking on humans isn’t also emulated.
All bony fish have a set of pharyngeal teeth in their throat but moray eels have a complete pharyngeal second jaw that they can launch forward and use to swallow their unfortunate victims. Considering it’s such a common animal you’ll be surprised to find out that this alien like feature was only discovered in 2007.
The second jaw is lined with backward facing curved teeth that gives its prey no chance of escape. Maybe appealing to the moray’s better nature may be an option but science suggests that they haven’t got one. The jaws are extremely powerful especially in the larger moray’s that can grow up to 7ft in length! So observing and photographing these animals should be done so with a degree of caution and a lot of respect.
The morays main set of teeth are incredibly sharp. Easily seen when observing a moray in the day, the eel will open and close its mouth as it pumps extra water over its gills. The large morays can eat almost anything that can fit into its mouth including the highly venomous stonefish.
So Where Can You go Diving With Aliens?
They they can appear on any of our Phuket day trips but the largest can be found at Racha Yai in Bay 1. Moray’s mostly hunt at night so we usually see just the head poking out of it’s daytime resting place. Often these hiding places are also cleaning stations. The moray will open up its mouth to let the cleaner wrasse and shrimp mop up the remains of last night’s meal from the impressive set of dentures.
We’re very fortunate to have many species of moray around Phuket. It’s not uncommon to chalk up 5 or more different species in a days diving. Our gallery below should help you identify the moray’s you encounter on your dives.
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