Jewel moray (Muraena lentiginosa) is a ornate moray eel found in the gulf of California, and eastern pacific through Central America. Though popular in the aquarium trade, Jewel morays are far more beautiful in the wild. They help to balance the populations of their prey, mollusks, invertebrates, crustaceans and cephalopods, making them highly beneficial to their ecosystems.
Due to their narrow heads, Moral eels are unable to create enough negative pressure in their mouths to swallow.They are the only known animal that uses a second set of jaws, called pharyngeal jaws, to eat.
The extendable pharyngeal jaws, stored in the eels throat, are pushed into their mouths when they feed to assist in the capture and devouring of prey. Once caught, the pharyngeal jaw is used to pull the prey down their throats to the digestive system. We photographed this jewel moray during a dive in Huatulco, Mexico. Read more in our post, Scuba Diving Huatulco, Mexico.