Echidna catenata (Bloch, 1795)
Chain moray
Echidna catenata
photo by Wirtz, P.

Family:  Muraenidae (Moray eels), subfamily: Muraeninae
Max. size:  165 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  reef-associated; depth range 0 - 12 m
Distribution:  Western Atlantic: Bermuda, Florida (USA), and the Bahamas to the Antilles (Ref. 26340) and Brazil. Eastern Atlantic: Cape Verde (Ref. 34514) and Ascension Island (Ref. 4450). The only record from West Africa is probably erroneous (Ref. 4450). Also southern Atlantic islands (Ref. 26938).
Diagnosis:  With short blunt snout, yellow chain-like markings, teeth bluntly pointed or molar-like especially on roof of mouth (Ref. 26938).
Biology:  A benthic and solitary species (Ref. 26340) found commonly on reefs and rocky shore areas. Feeds on small fishes and crustaceans (Ref. 5521). At Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, off NE Brazil, forages for sally lightfoot crabs (Grapsus grapsus) on exposed reefs at ebb tide and in tide-pools mostly at daytime. Able to withstand up to 30 minutes out of water while foraging, uses four main tactics both in and out of the water. Searches for prey at pool rims and rock bases poking into crevices and holes, stealthily approaches previously sighted prey, chases prey and ambushes prey from under rocks and crevices. Hunting success varies with employed tactic, but overall success is about 50%. May move up to 6 meters in about 1 hour while foraging on the exposed reef. Its crab hunting is mostly visually guided and a fish darting nearby a stealthily foraging moray may cause it to miss the strike; the missed crab may be chased up to 5 m on the reef. Able to strike with its body partly or entirely out of the water, usually strikes from a distance of 5 to10 centimeters. Small crabs are swallowed whole, whereas larger ones are torn apart by a combination of tugging, rotating, knotting, and thrashing movements. Handling time is related to prey size, the largest crabs (carapace width 2.3-3.2 times larger than moray‚Äôs head width) broken up and swallowed within 90 to 240 seconds. Attracted to plastic or rubber decoys dragged on a nylon string nearby, striking at these (Ref. 50922).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 16 August 2011 Ref. (120744)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Froese, Rainer - 01.05.91
Modified by: Sazima, Ivan - 30.03.04
Checked by: Torres, Armi G. - 04.08.94

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