Spotted Snake Eel, Myrichthys maculosis

12 November 2018
If you see what you think is sea snake in the Red Sea it is actually a snake eel, as there are no sea snakes in the Red Sea. The spotted snake eel mimics the venomous reptiles by looking and moving like a snake. The subject of its mimicry, though, is kept out of the Red Sea by the saltiness of the water.

Spotted Snake Eel in the Red Sea
Spotted Snake Eel, Myrichthys maculosis
Photo by Jill Studholme.

The snake eels are an interesting group, seen much less frequently than the morays.

The spotted snake eel can grow up to 1 m long, but is usually less than half that length. It generally lives at depths between 1 and 25 m. However, it has been found 262 m down. You see it most often on sandy areas by reefs.

Spotted Snake Eel hunting

Feeding on fishes and crustaceans, it hunts by sense of smell. Like a lot of snake eels it burrows into sand. The tip of its tail is hard allowing it to dig down.

The eels live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans down to South East Australia and South Africa. They are also known as tiger snake eels or oscellate snake eels.

Class: Actinopterygii > Order: Anguilliformes > Suborder: Congroidei > Family: Ophichthidae

References

Coral Reef Guide Red Sea, Lieske and Myers
Red Sea Reef Guide, Helmut Debelius