Giant Moray (species: Gymnothorax javanicus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Gymnothorax javanicus
Giant Moray

©Andy Lewis: A Giant Moray Eel

©Andy Lewis: A Giant Moray being attended by a juvenile Common Cleanerfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Anguilliformes
Family Muraenidae
Genus Gymnothorax
Species Gymnothorax javanicus



Distinguishing features

A large dark-brown eel with irregular black splotches over the body. Usually seen with just the head protruding from a cave or crevice.


  • Up to 200 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of rich coral growth with holes and caves for shelter.

Can be found in most locations around the island.


Active nocturnally and at dawn and dusk. Feeds on sleeping fishes at night and hunts by smell. Occasionally seen moving over reef flats just on dark.

Web resources


  • unspecified - The moray eels are aggressive and pugnacious if divers come too close to their daytime resting places, and may bite if provoked. They have large, sharp, backward pointing teeth and can cause serious lacerations. Keep a good distance from morays and be cautious when snorkelling or diving near caves or holes where morays may be hiding. The flesh of Moray Eels is well known to cause ciguatera poisoning, and these fish should never be eaten. First Aid - click here


References that assist with identification

  • Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene (1990). Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other references

  • Bohlke, E.B. and J.E. McCosker (2001). The moray eels of Australia and New Zealand, with the description of two new species (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae), Records of the Australian Museum, 53: 71-102. LIRS catalog number 90074.
  • Bshary, R., A. Hohner, K. Ait-el-Djoudi and H. Fricke (2006). Interspecific communicative and coordinated hunting between groupers and giant moray eels in the Red Sea, PLoS Biol, 4: e431. LIRS catalog number 90073.
  • View all references