Are Moray Eels Dangerous? – Truths & Myths Explained

Moray Eels are most definitely dangerous. Not only are they apex predators but they are also capable of inflicting serious damage on humans if provoked. While Moray aren’t poisonous, their bites can often lead to infections which can cause further complications.

On top of that, their bites have been reported to be extremely painful. This means that as humans we should keep our distance if we ever see one of these creatures in the wild. While in size, the Moray may be comparable to a Muskie or Snakehead, in terms of danger, they are worlds apart. Moray have a nasty reputation for a reason.

Why Moray Eels Are Dangerous To Humans

There are a few reasons why Moray are dangerous to humans. While Moray aren’t venomous they have toxins in their mucus/slime which covers their bodies and mouths. Most notably a toxin called hemagglutinin, a toxin that leads to red blood cells clumping together. Moray can also generate crinotoxins, which are toxins that destroy red blood cells. Source: All these toxins mean that once you’ve been bitten by a Moray, you’re vulnerable to infection, and if you don’t receive treatment, the infection can lead to further complications.

Moray are also particularly dangerous because of their jaws and teeth. Their teeth are almost alike to those of a shark in the sense that they are incredibly sharp and point backward. This means it is very difficult for their prey to escape and if you’re unfortunate enough to be bitten by a Moray, sometimes removing it can be quite the challenge. They also have pharyngeal jaws which essentially means they have two sets of teeth to help them latch onto prey.

This means that they can give a really nasty bite, particularly larger Moray. Bites from these creatures may need stitches as they leave a real mess once they latch on. However, regardless of how significant the bite is, you should always seek medical help immediately if bitten by a Moray as there is always the risk of infection.

Which Moray Eels Are Dangerous To Humans

Generally speaking, all Moray Eels have the capacity to be dangerous to humans. However, there are many different variations of the Moray. This means that each species possess slightly different levels of danger toward humans as illustrated by the table below which shows a handful of the most iconic variations within the Moray family. This is predominantly determined by the size and thus bite damage as Moray don’t have venomous bites:

EelScientific Name
Giant MorayGymnothorax Javanicus
Green Moray Gymnothorax Funebris
Yellow-Edged MorayGymnothorax Flavimarginatus
Honeycomb MorayGymnothorax Favagineus
Snowflake MorayEchidna Nebulosa
Fangtooth MorayEnchelycore Anatina
Indian Mud MorayGymnothorax Tile
Spotted MorayGymnothorax Moringa

How To Prevent Getting Bitten By A Moray Eel

The easiest way to prevent getting bitten by a Moray is simply by avoiding contact with them. This is quite easy as Moray rarely encounter humans in shallow waters. So unless you’re really looking for Moras or spending lots of time in the ocean, you’re very unlikely to be bitten.

Deep Sea Divers, Coral Reef Divers, Snorkelers, & Surfers are among the few that are more susceptible to a bite from a Moray. Even then, this only applies if they are swimming in warm tropical coral reefs where the Moray resides. On top of this, they are nocturnal feeders which means that you’re even less likely to encounter one of these creatures.

If you happen to find yourself near a Moray, the best possible course of action is to create distance between yourself and the eel. Distance will keep you safe as Moray won’t actively go out of their way to attack humans. Its also advisable to not create any sudden movements that may potentially startle the eel.

The only scenario where humans actually interact with Moray is in aquariums. Of course, only trained professionals should handle Moray Eels but it is still possible to be bitten by a Moray in captivity. In fact, there is even a recording on YouTube that shows a Moray attacking a member of staff in an aquarium.

What To Do If You’re Bitten By A Moray Eel

If you’re unfortunate enough to be bitten by a Moray, you have to react quickly in order to prevent an infection. Firstly, you want to clean the wounds before applying pressure to ebb the bleeding. You then want to apply a sterile dressing and immediately seek medical attention.

As we mentioned earlier, the toxins in the mucus of the eel make infection a very real possibility so it is imperative that a doctor takes a look at the wound so that they can prescribe the appropriate treatment and or medication.

Are Moray Eels Aggressive

While Moras are carnivorous and certainly apex predators, they are not inherently dangerous to humans. They don’t actually have any desire to cause harm to people. We aren’t considered prey to Moray so they really don’t have a reason to attack people.

The only reason a Moray would attack a person is if it felt threatened or provoked. Hence why its important to be very aware if you’re swimming in waters where Moray are present. If they do feel threatened by your presence, Moray can become very aggressive. They are equipped to do serious damage and they will not hesitate to attack with force if you startle them.

So while Moray have the capacity for violence and aggression against humans, it is not in their nature. In fact, it is quite similar to the phenomenon that occurred with the white shark. For the longest time, people believed that white sharks were man-eaters. Only after research, we discovered that it was a simple case of misidentification on the shark’s behalf. This is similar to the Moray in the sense that it is not in their nature or intention to hurt people. After all, like all animals, they are simply trying to protect themselves and the future of the species. So while we should recognize the danger of animals like the Moray, its also important not to demonize them and make them seem like something they aren’t.

Are Moray Eels Dangerous To Animals

Moray Eels are dangerous to anything that they consider to be prey. Most Moray are ambush predators which means they wait in the shadows until something comes into their proximity. Moray feeds mostly at night on fish, crabs, shrimp, octopuses and squid. However, they aren’t fussy and there is even a clip on YouTube of a Moray attacking and attempting to eat a Whitetip Reef Shark!


Moray Eels can be dangerous to us if we don’t treat them with the respect they deserve. However, they aren’t an animal worth worring about. Providing that you leave them alone, they’ll have no interest in you.

So while it is good to be aware of the danger that these fish possess, we also have to take into consideration why attacks occur and what we can do to prevent them. However, their danger to other sea-life, specifically prey, is undeniable. But thats what makes these eels so fascinating!

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