Eels in Key Largo

You can see such a huge variety of life on the reefs. But an often-exciting visitor on a local dive includes a variety of eels in Key Largo that roam the reefs. As you’re scouring the reef, you can usually only spot a few on a dive as opposed to the hundreds upon hundreds of fish swarming the reef.

So what kind of eels do we have and what should you look for? Well, you have a good selection of options to keep an eye out for. Most eels in Key Largo are carefully tucked into a crevice or burrow housed in the reef. It’s incredibly easy to swim right over one and never notice! Take your time and look under ledges, move slowly on top of the reef and look into the crevices. Eels can range from a few inches to 6 feet long, depending on the species. Approach slowly if you find one, and be careful not to get too close! Typically you’ll be able to get a few feet away and enjoy the view!

Moray EelMoray Eel

Have you even seen an eel continuously opening and closing their mouth? It turns out it’s not a sign of aggression at all. This behavior is actually how they breathe. An eel will open and close its mouth to force water over the gills constantly. And if you time it right it certainly makes for a fantastic photo opportunity!

Cleaning Behavior

Another neat behavior to watch for is an eel at a “cleaning station.” They will approach a location, and lay down to relax. Not long after you’ll see many small fish or shrimp come out to help the eel out with a dental visit and spa treatment! Many species of cleaning wrasse do their job on the reef by cleaning up parasites on eels, turtle, grouper, barracuda, parrotfish etc. And in return the eel doesn’t eat the fish. He gets a free cleaning, and the fish get a free meal. This kind of symbiosis is very common in reef environments.


Eel Cleaning Station

Fishy Feature – Eels