Argus Moray, Muraena argus
The Argus Moray, Muraena argus, whose common Spanish name is morena Argos, is a member of the Moray and Snake Moray or Muraenidae Family, known collectively as morenas in Mexico. This fish is also known as the White-Spotted Moray. Globally, there are nine members in the genus Muraena, four of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.
The Argus Morays have elongated muscular compressed bodies. They are brown to green-brown in color with large and distinctive anal and dorsal fins that are continuous with the caudal fin and are covered with skin with white margins. They have a large and very prominent black spot covering their gill openings. They have three rows of large irregular white blotches along their sides and a few white or yellow flecks on the rear half of their body and dorsal fin. Their head has a moderately-sized conical snout, golden eyes with dark pupils, and a large mouth equipped with slender conical teeth. Their dorsal fin originates before the gill openings. Their tail is slightly longer than body length. They have no pectoral or pelvic fins, gill covers or scales.
The Argus Morays are found around rocky reefs at depths up to 395 feet. They reach a maximum length of 1.2 meters (3 feet 11 inches). They are night predators, consuming small fish and invertebrates including crab, octopus, and shrimp. They are found in water temperatures between 20oC (68oF) and 28oC (82oF). Reproduction is viviparous with eggs and sperm broadcast into the water generating pelagic eggs and larvae that drift in oceanic currents before settling out on the bottom.
The Argus Morays are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific with the exception of the extreme northern portion of the Sea of Cortez.
The Argus Moray can be confused with the Hourglass Moray, Muraena clepsydra (white spot preceding black spot at corner of mouth; black spot with white margin on gill cover).
The Argus Morays are very seldom, seen by humans, of limited interest to most and normally a “catch and release”.
Argus Moray Eel, Muraena argus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, March 2015. Length: 71 cm (2 feet 4 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.