Swimming with a Giant Moray Eel in the Maldives
Okay, it was more like swimming near it, shrieking into my snorkel mask, squidding my swimsuit, swallowing a chunk of salt water then surfacing to calm my arse down before attempting to dive down to see it again.
The giant moray eel (a “small one” according to the resident marine biologist we were snorkeling with) was close to 6 feet (2 meters) in length when stretched out. It had set up residence in one of the large man-made coral reefs that Kandooma Island is building to replace the dying ocean coral. We were down there working on the reef project we made in memory of my mom (I’ll post about that on another day) and decided to explore the fish living among the newly created reef.
Shahid, the marine biologist who became our favorite staff member at the resort, already was carrying my camera to show us how to use the various underwater settings, so he proceeded to take both photo and video of the eel. He was only inches from the eel as he took photos and I was certain he would be bitten. But he knew his comfort level with these creatures, and the eel just watched him patiently until he was finished.
Giant moray eels are found in the Indian Ocean, where we were, and in the Pacific Ocean. They will attack if provoked, but generally aren’t interested in you unless you’re a fish. The poison/toxicity level of the moray eel seems to be an issue still under study. You can read more about them here.
Honestly I think what makes eels so “creepy” is the way they breathe. They open and close their mouths to breathe, and it looks quite menacing, especially if you get a look at the teeth when they do so. I actually think they’re pretty cool as predators go (uh…once I got over my initial, startled, crap-my-pants reaction) and went looking for it again the following day. But it had already moved on.
Here’s a little video to leave you with. Enjoy!
All photos and video for today’s post were taken with our new Olympus Underwater Digital Camera, by Kandooma’s resident Marine Biologist, Mohamed Shahid.