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Ellen Muller | profile | all galleries >> Mating Morays tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Mating Morays

For several years I have seen a solitary Broadbanded Moray living in the same den. On May 27th just before sunset I was delighted to find a second Broadbanded Moray had shown up. After observing them displaying courtship behavior for 3 days I decided to do a night dive on May 30th to observe them. Broadbanded Morays are extremely sensitive to light so I use only a red light to watch them. Normally hiding deep in their lair they were both at the outer edge of their den. As you can see in the photos the female's jaw was in much worse shape than when she arrived. I could sense something was going to happen so I stayed in the general area for an hour watching them inch out further and further from their protected lair. Finally, the male latched onto the female's jaw and they rose up about 10 ft into the water column. In an amazing display the female released thousands of eggs fertilized by the male into the night sea!

This is one of the most spectacular behaviors I have ever seen. My eyes had become accustomed to the dark after an hour of using only a red light and the light of the moon was very bright that evening. I didn't want to shine a light on them as they were rising up because I was afraid it might interrupt their spawning. Watching these two magnificent 4-5 ft long morays by the light of the moon, rising up together followed by a massive amount of eggs, sperm and sand exploding like fireworks was an incredible sight!

After spawning the morays parted ways and are once again leading a solitary existence.

The Flaming Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus antillensis) has been sharing the same den with the solitary darker colored Broadbanded Moray for years. She seemed extremely unhappy with all the commotion going on in her den, even trying to push the lighter colored moray away!
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays
Moray Eggs
Moray Eggs
Lobster and Morays
Lobster and Morays
Lobster and Morays
Lobster and Morays
Lobster and Morays
Lobster and Morays
Mating Morays
Mating Morays