Living on the Wreck of the Zenobia: A Mediterranean Moray

Mediterranean Moray (Muraena helena)
Mediterranean Moray (Muraena helena)
by B. N. Sullivan

This is a Mediterranean Moray (Muraena helena).   We discovered this individual while diving on the Zenobia, a large shipwreck in Larnaca Bay, Cyprus. The eel was living in an algae-encrusted drain near what had been one of the big ship's lifeboat stations.

The Mediterranean Moray is known to be territorial (like many other species in its family, Muraenidae).  Thus, we were not surprised when the local dive guide who was escorting us told us that this particular Moray had been residing there for quite awhile, and usually could be seen poking its head out of the same hole on any given day.

This is a carnivorous species.  A nocturnal hunter, the Mediterranean Moray preys on fishes and crustaceans.  This eel also will scavenge dead animal carcasses.

Note:  The photo on this page was taken in 1992, during one of seven dives we made on the wreck of the Zenobia. In 2008,  I wrote about those dives in a series of articles on The Right Blue.  If you are interested, you can have a look at these posts about our dives on the Zenobia:

Finally, here is a link to a recent documentary video about the Wreck of the Zenobia.  The underwater videography is good, and the wreck itself looks much the same as when we saw it years ago.  It looked to us as though many more fish now call the wreck home -- but, alas, we saw no sign of our Mediterranean Moray.

UPDATE:  Okay, we just looked at the film again, and guess what we saw: A moray! [at about 23:24 minutes].  There's no way to know if it's the same moray, or another of the same species, but in any case, the wreck of the Zenobia does still have a resident Mediterranean Moray.

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