That’s a moray! Eels are a fascinating part of the Catalina marine ecosystem
Catalina’s marine environment is home to a wide variety of marine life. Bright, colorful fish and playful marine mammals are part of that variety, but there are also creatures that humans find a bit more ominous.
Moray eels are one such creature. This long snake-like fish lacks traditional gills and must keep their mouths open to breathe, which, combined with their fang-like teeth, gives them a menacing appearance. Moray eels are relatively common in local waters; during the day, snorkelers and Catalina Island scuba divers frequently spot them peering out from the rock crevices they call home. At night, these intimidating predators emerge from their lairs in search of prey, which includes small fish, crustaceans and octopii. Adult morays can grow up to five feet long and their sinuous profiles can be spotted hunting Catalina’s near shore waters on the night trips aboard the island’s semisubmersibles and glass bottom boats as well as during night dives.
While these fascinating hunters do not regularly pose a risk to humans, they will not hesitate to defend their homes – keeping hands and arms out of rocky crevices while underwater is definitely a good idea.