White Mouth Moray Eels are commonly seen off the shores of Maui.

Snorkeling in Maui – Moray Eels

At first glance moray eels look pretty intimidating. You'll often find them poking their snake-like heads out of dark crevices—opening and closing their jaws and displaying a mouthful of teeth in a threatening manner. There's no need to rush off if you see one though, morays aren't typically aggressive unless they're being harrassed or fed. Simply give them space and enjoy the opportunity to observe these interesting creatures.

While they may not look like it, eels are actually fish. But unlike fish, morays eels don't have gill covers. This makes a big difference when it comes to breathing.  Fish breathe by opening and closing their gill covers to draw water across their gills, while morays have to constantly open and close their mouths to do the same thing. So while they may look menacing, morays are just doing "what morays have to do" in order to breathe.

So if you encounter eels while snorkeling in Maui don't be spooked—just enjoy. Their tendency to stay in one place makes them easy to photograph and observe. You may get lucky and see hunting behavior, but in that case your observation will be cut short, these amazing creatures can weave in and out of the coral in seconds.

For more about eels and other fascinating underwater creatures in Maui, check back often or pick up a copy of Mask, Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling!

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