Not quite a snake but...

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RobertH
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Not quite a snake but...

Post by RobertH » December 10th, 2015, 6:54 pm

Hi guys, I've taken a long break from herping and, as some of you know, have been freediving/snorkeling around Laguna. Of course I am taking photos too. This is a new skill I'm practicing and it is very different from herp photography. But to meet in the middle we found this California Moray Eel, (Gymnothorax mordax) this past weekend and I thought I would share it with you guys.
ImageCalifornia Moray (Gymnothorax mordax) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageCalifornia Moray (Gymnothorax mordax) and California Spiny Lobster (Panulirus interruptus) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

ImageCalifornia Moray (Gymnothorax mordax) by NicholasHess, on Flickr

If you want a lot more photos of herps and underwater you can look on my Flickr photostream here, https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicholash ... 534369322/ and my Instagram at pickle.heliosphere :).

Nicholas

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Calfirecap
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by Calfirecap » December 11th, 2015, 7:00 am

Awesome Nicholas!
I would have thought that Lobster would be eaton by the Moray, but I basically know nothing about Morays, apparently that's not the case.

Jimi
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by Jimi » December 11th, 2015, 9:50 am

I would have thought that Lobster would be eaten by the Moray
Me too, but I am similarly ignorant of eel/lobster relations. Perhaps the lobster is large enough to not face that problem any more, at least with an eel that small? Or, perhaps when the lobster moults he needs to find another, eel-less crevice to hang in until his shell hardens? Or maybe morays like crab and fish more? Hmm...

I've never really done much in the water in Orange County (whoa crowded). Surfed Salt Creek a few times in the 80's & early 90's; no snorkeling or diving ever. Are there some of those relatively new CDFW Marine Protected Areas there? Are they of the no-harvest-whatsoever variety? It's nice to get into & explore such spots. SoCal's marine life must have been incredible to witness before a few generations of intense use, but those no-take areas are allowing us to better-imagine what that must have been like. I spend a few weeks every winter in N SD county and am really enjoying seeing some MPA spots there rebound fast and hard. Way more fish and inverts than any time in my life, even in some pretty tiny spots. I know CDFW faced a hell-storm of criticism over those MPAs, but...the proof's in the pudding, IMO.

Thanks for the pics. Are you doing much in the FHF fish forum (sorry, I haven't checked yet).

cheers

RobertH
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by RobertH » December 11th, 2015, 3:36 pm

Jimi, most of Laguna is a no take MPA. I actually haven't posted any thing on the fish/fishing forum. There are many photographs of lobsters with moray eels so I don't think that there is any conflict between the two. Perhaps the lobster eats bits of flesh the eel doesn't eat from its last meal. So maybe the they even benefit from each other.

Nicholas

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Porter
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by Porter » December 11th, 2015, 9:12 pm

Cool shots! :thumb: I didn't know we had moray eel around our coasts. My Dad got chased by a river eel fishing waist deep. near Nimbus I think... he was trying to get his tackle out of a bush that over hung the other side of the river. Wadded out to it. as he was getting close to the bank an eel jumped up out of the water slapped around on the shore a couple of times then back into the water and swim directly towards his swimming trunks. Lol He had to splash the thing away from a close encounter you never want to have :shock: I think he said in was a brownish reddish gold color (highlights in the sun)

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Joseph S.
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by Joseph S. » December 17th, 2015, 10:29 pm

Great photos! Yes moray eels and lobsters get along quite well. Octopus and eels...not so much. I think a freshly molted lobster could be vulnerable.

As someone who has taken 2 moray eel bites to the same set of fingers(different circumstances involved) be careful...they can be quite abundant in some areas and their teeth are like glass shards...
If you don't wear gloves already they are nice to have...mostly to keep fingers warm.

With the powerful el nino should be lots of cool stuff showing up. Their are lots of little coves to explore all up and down the coast from ventura to oc...

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monklet
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by monklet » December 18th, 2015, 2:27 pm

Hi Nick, this is fantastic stuff and rather coincidental to me as I just started doing some snorkeling on Santa Cruz Island last summer and made a few visits this season. The variety of your finds and photos is awesome, so much stuff I haven't seen yet.

And you solved a life-long mystery for me. I went to scout camp at Emerald Bay on Catalina as a kid and did a fair bit of snorkeling there. I saw a long yellow-green fish eel looking fish swimming though some sea grass (eel grass?) and have never been able to figure out what it was. Now, from seeing your pics in the album I know it was a Giant Kelpfish ...awesome looking fish.

Saw my first Sheepshead this year and I was a little confused that the middle portion of a male looks bluish gray rather than orange but now that I see your pics I wonder if that coloration is actual or due to an attenuation of the red light under water. Do you know?

Anyway, looks like the snorkeling off Laguna is actually better than the Channel Islands! I want to get down there at least once this coming season once the water warms up to have a go of it. It would be nice if you and your Dad could meet up and show me around :)

Brad

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monklet
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by monklet » December 18th, 2015, 2:35 pm

btw, what's up with the Triggerfish? Are they regular in So Cal waters or an exception due to El Nino? Never imagined we had any species of triggerfish here.

RobertH
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by RobertH » December 18th, 2015, 4:35 pm

Hi Brad,
Giant Kelpfish are always fun. The big male sheepheads are red and even the females are a little red. The water filters out much of the red so that it looks bluish gray. When it comes to seeing enough fish it's pointless to go to a non protected area because of over fishing. The difference is night and day, at a non protected area you may once in a blue moon see one female sheephead, while at a protected area you'll see almost 5 big males on a good day, plus lots of females. It would be fun to go snorkeling with you in the summer. About the triggerfish, The finescale triggerfish ranges all the way to tomales bay in marin county. Although it is rare north of Mexico, it is not super unusual.
Joseph, I am careful and think of them similar to helleri and don't stick my fingers in cracks. Scorpion fish are also like helleri since they are venomous.
Nicholas

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Fundad
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by Fundad » December 18th, 2015, 5:42 pm

Nice shots.. :thumb:

Love it.

Fundad

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monklet
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by monklet » December 19th, 2015, 8:21 am

Nick, the only places I've snorkeled yet in on Cruz have be Scorpion Landing and Prisoner's Harbor, both of which are protected. The islands are sort of a checkerboard of protected and non-protected waters. One thing that may likely limit abundance would be the boat and kayak traffic at those two locales which are the two main landing sites for island tourism.

I hear "Little Scorpion" anchorage is very good, and it is a doable hike of about a mile.

Can't wait to try Laguna next year.

RobertH
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Re: Not quite a snake but...

Post by RobertH » December 20th, 2015, 8:39 am

Brad, check your pm's.

Robert

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