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Eels and Morays: Anguilliformes

Behavior And Reproduction

Eels and morays migrate (MY-grayt), or move from one place to another, for spawning. They swim by means of wavy side-to-side movements of the body and fins. They also can swim backward, which allows them to retreat rapidly into their burrows when threatened.

Eels and morays use external fertilization (FUR-teh-lih-zay-shun), or the joining of egg and sperm outside the body to start development. The eggs hatch into long (2 to 4 inches, or 5 to 10 centimeters), flat, clear, filmy larvae (LAR-vee) with sharp, fanglike teeth. The larvae can be found at varying depths, from the surface of the ocean to 1,640 feet (500 meters). The larvae undergo metamorphosis (meh-tuh-MOR-pho-sus), the changes in form that some animals make to become adults, in the open ocean six months to three years after hatching. The colder the water, the longer is the larval stage. Young eels and morays, or elvers, use ocean currents to reach the habitat they will live in as adults. They then grow and mature for as long as ten years.


Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesEels and Morays: Anguilliformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Eels, Morays, And People, American Eel (anguilla Rostrata): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS