Franklin the Goldentailed Moray Eel

Franklin is the star attraction on Greg Hartley's Undersea Walk. He is the long sleek pettable cheetah on our Reef Safari. Franklin has a special glass jar with his name on it. Its first purpose is to allow Frank to eat in peace. He has never known a time when he missed out on a snack because he was not fast enough and a fish stole it. This makes him as cool as a cucumber. He is long but not green. He pokes his little head in the jar and noses around till contact is made. The second reason is so divers can watch him eat. The jar is not to stop him from bitting people. After 11 years he knows perfectly well where and when food will appear. Frank tolerates being touched much as your dog tolerates and complies with the sit command to get food. The green morays, Lycodontis Funebris, actually have blue skincovered with a yellow mucous which therefore make them look green. This species, made famous in the movie The Deep, have become touchable at dive sites further south (with gloves), but they are bigger. They can grow to over six feet, but they are not as nervous as the speckled morays (Lycondontis moringa). No attempt should be made to tame any speckled moray. They have a very nervous nature and an insecure bite-first-then-disappear attitude. As with most creatures man or beast, and especially women, one should become friends and develop a relationship of trust before touching them.
Moray eel in Bermuda

I think Frank has the cutest little face a moray eel could ever have. He opens and closes his mouth to breath and force water out of his exhale tube. People mistake this as aggression. He will feel threatened and diplay his aggressive stance if Oliver comes too close to him. Oliver is at least ten times heavier than Franlin, does his thing, and pays my little buddy no mind. If, when Franklin is out of his hole slipping from hand to hand on his way to the food jar, Oliver passes say eight inches or less from him, Frank will pause, arch his head up to face Oliver's body, and open his mouth wide and stiffly. Oliver gives him no respect and continues to cruise along and do his thing. Frank will attempt to keep his dignity even if his mouth actually touches Oliver's long body as it glides by. Franklin has many needle-like teeth in his mouth. Fortunately they are pretty much the same length. Because Franklin has vey poor eye-sight and is designed to be out at night, he has been known to squeeze a finger with his mouth. The honor of such an event is hard to show off as the the three or so holes caused by the longest teeth are so tiny that they are difficult to see.
Goldentailed moray eel in Bermuda

Moray eels have a nasty reputation for several reasons. Their bite is not poisinous and there is no venom or electric shock. However, their mouths, like ours and many other places, are full of bacteria. Their agressive bite, like a coral scrape, leaves a damaged area with increased surface for bacteria to multiply. But not to worry, Frank is quite familiar with the routine and squid is his favorite food. I get quite sad and even worry if he is gone for more than four days. It is quite tricky. If he is fed too much then he will stay contentedly in his hole and passengers will miss the thrill of touching him. However, if I feed him too little, he will go off hunting, swallow who knows what, and stay deep in his hole digesting for the next week. I hope he is ther when you join us so you can experience the sensuous pleasure of caressing his scale-free skin.
Moray eel in Bermuda
Franklin and Milton 92kb

Yes Franklin has a small friend. Milton has been around for about 3 years, at first he was very yellow and small. Over the years he has gotten bigger and just this year he has turned much darker. I suspect that the deepening color is a sign of maturity as Frank gives him more clearance. That spot in the photo has long been Frank's #2 spot. His more comfortable home is OK, but it is nearer the boat by the end of the dive. At times at the end of the dive I would scatter food for the snappers. In anticipation, they mill around and this bothers Frank, so the #2 spot then is favored. Now it seems that Milton has occupied that spot so each dive I have to call Frank (bang food jar on reef), or go and get him and bring him over. He will do his thing, but after a bit will slip back to spot #1. Perhaps in a few years Milton will be big enough to have the confidence to lit go of the reef with his tail and allow himself to be passed around.
Small moray in Bermuda

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