Ghost moray sighted in Sodwana Bay
03 December 2015
Marie Broodryk photographed a moray eel that she didn't recognise during a night dive on 2 Mile Reef in Sodwana bay. The photograph was sent on to Phil and Elaine Heemstra from the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). Although only the head was visible they were confident that enough distinguishing characteristics were visible to allow for identification. They tentatively identified it as the Ghost moray, Gymnothorax phasmatodes, despite not having seen a photograph of this species from southern Africa before. The picture was then sent onto Dave Smith, the moray eel expert at the Smithsonian, for his opinion. Dave confirmed that the photograph was indeed of a juvenile Ghost moray. This was a very exciting find as there have previously only been specimens obtained from Pinda, Inhaca and the Comoros in the SAIAB fish collection so this photo from Sodwana bay represents a new distribution for the species. The ghost moray is recognised by its pale yellow to grey body with a lighter belly. The edge of its dorsal fin is light blue or white and, as shown in the photograph opposite, there are white spots around the mouth with pores in them. This species was first described by JLB Smith from a specimen collected in Mozambique.