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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Muraena helena Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body elongate, deep, compressed anteriorly (maximum depth 7.6 to 12% TL); anus slightly before midpoint of body. Head short, massive, its dorsal profile convex; anterior and posterior nostrils tubular. Jaws close together all along their length; teeth conical, long and acute, uniserial in both jaws; 2 or 3 on premaxillae, some small, uniserial on vomer. Gill openings restricted to small lateral pore. Dorsal and anal fins included in dermal fold, confluent with caudal fin; dorsal fin origin slightly before gill openings; pectoral and pelvic fins absent. Vertebrae 139-143. Colour: very variable, chocolate brown and more or less dark, spotted with irregular black, yellow, cream or white patches; gill openings and corner of mouth black-edged. Size: to 130 cm.

Habitat: benthic on shelf, on rocky coasts, in crevices or places protected by overhangs or algae; nocturnal predator. Food: carnivorous, mainly cephalopods and fishes. Reproduction: in warm hydrological season; eggs 5-5.5 mm diameter; leptocephalus larva described by Grassi (1913).

Distribution: Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic northward to the British Isles. Elsewhere southward to the Canaries and Senegal.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Grassi, 1896: 372; 1897a: 261 | Sanzo, 1905: 312 | Schmidt, 1906a: 149 | Lo Bianco, 1909: 730 | Grassi, 1910: 3, fig. 1-8 | Schmidt, 1912b: pl. 4 | Grassi, 1913: 135, pl. 8 (fig. 1-10,1417,19-21), pl. 12 (fig. 31-32), p. 13 (fig. 8) | Schmidt, 1913: 6, fig. 3 | Grassi, 1915: 702, 706; 1917: 24, pl. 2 .(fig. 10-11) | Bertin, 1926: 328, tab. 1-6 | Fish, 1927: 307 | Ancona, 1928: 519; 1930 pl. 130 (fig. 2); 1931: 145, fig. 144-150 | Ford, 1931: 996 | Castle, 1969: 22.
Otoliths (sagitta). Frost, 1926: 101 | Sanz Echeverria, 1928: 164.

Mediterranean moray (Muraena helena)