Ribbon Eels

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Appearing like a dancing ribbon — only much cooler — is the aptly-named ribbon eel.

Commonly known as the ribbon eel, or blue ribbon eel, these colorful animals are actually a species of moray eel..

Found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, this eel is generally pretty secretive, choosing to hide in a cave or burrow under the sand with just its head protruding. With its dramatic coloration, the ribbon eel is pretty cool just hanging out in its hole, but when it decides to free swim–well, that’s when it becomes truly spectacular.

When fully exposed it is clear how this eel got it name. It’s a rare and extra special occurrence when a diver is fortunate to see one completely out of it’s hole.

 

Blue Ribbon Eel

Photo By Swee Chee

If you are lucky you can see these beautiful creatures when diving the warmer waters of the Indo-Pacific, Southern Africa, or the Red Sea. You might also have thought that there were three different types of ribbon eels – black ones, blue and yellow ones. But they aren’t different one, just different stage of life.

 

Juvenile Ribbon Eel

Juveniles are easily recognizable because they exhibit black coloring with a yellow stripe.

Adult Male Ribbon eel

Male and female ribbon eels are also distinguishable by their coloring! Adult males are blue with yellow accents

Female Ribbon Eel

Females are almost completely yellow. As the adult male reaches full size, it begins to turn into a female, and turns yellow. It will then mate, lay eggs, and die within about a month. Due to this short lifespan, female ribbon eels are a relatively rare sight.

Colour change related to sex change is not known from any other moray eel species.

Facts about Ribbon Eel:

1. The ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita) or Bernis eel, is a species of moray eel, the only member of the genus Rhinomuraena.

2. The ribbon eel can be found in the Indo-Pacific ocean.

3. They are usually seen with only their heads protruding from holes in reefs, amongst coral rubble on coastal reef slopes or in sand and mud of lagoons.

4. The ribbon eel can easily be recognized by its expanded anterior nostrils.

5. They might look angry, but they're just breathing! Like moray eels (and unlike most fish), the ribbon eel has to open and close its mouth in order to circulate water towards its gills (in order to breathe).

6. Ribbon eels are carnivores, preying on small fish and other marine creatures. They can attract their prey with their flared nostrils and then clamp down on them with their strong jaws and retreat into their burrows.

7. Ribbon eels are known to stay in the same hole for months or even years.

8. Juveniles and sub-adults are jet black with a yellow dorsal fin.

9. Juveniles are usually found on their own.

10. The ribbon eel can easily be recognized by its expanded anterior nostrils.

11. All juveniles are born male.

12. The adult males are blue with a yellow dorsal fin. Male and female ribbon eels are also distinguishable by their coloring! Adult males are blue with yellow accents.

13. It is not unusual to find a number of males in the same area, some even share the same hole or burrow!

14. The ribbon eel is the only moray eel that is protandric, which means that they can change from a male to female (protandry) should it become necessary for survival of the species in their area.

15. As the adult male reaches full size (approximately 1 metre), it begins to turn into a female, and turns yellow. It will then mate, lay eggs, and die within about a month. Due to this short lifespan, female ribbon eels are a relatively rare sight.

14. Females are almost completely yellow. As the adult male reaches full size, it begins to turn into a female, and turns yellow. It will then mate, lay eggs, and die within about a month. Due to this short lifespan, female ribbon eels are a relatively rare sight.

15. The ribbon eel grows to an overall length of approximately 1 m (3.3 ft), and has a life span of up to twenty years.

16. The major threat to these beautiful eels is the aquarium trade – sadly, when researching for this article, most articles I came across were aquarium keepers articles.

 

Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_eel

http://www.indigoscuba.com/15-amazing- facts-about- ribbon-eels/

http://animals.mom.me/interesting-ribbon- eel-4353.html

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June 28, 2016 |

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