Sieve Moray, Gymnothorax cribroris Whitley 1932

Other Names: Australian Moray, Brown-flecked Moray, Sieve Patterned Moray, Sieved Moray, Sieve-patterned Eel, Sieve-patterned Moray, Sieve-patterned Moray-eel

A Sieve Moray, Gymnothorax cribroris, at Fly Point, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, New South Wales, January 2007. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A yellowish to dark brown moray with a “snowflake” pattern of pale spots and blotches separated by brown reticulations, and distinctive dark brown spots on the side of the head.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Gymnothorax cribroris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Sieve Moray, Gymnothorax cribroris Whitley 1932

More Info


Off Carnavon to off  Broome, Western Australia, and off Cairns, Queensland, to at least Sydney, New South Wales. North West Shelf.Inhabits sheltered coastal reefs, tidepools and estuaries, often in silty areas - in crevices.


Overall pattern of pale spots and blotches separated by brown reticulations; small pale spots on head, becoming lichenous or snowflake-like on body and tail; occiput conspicuously marked with several rows of larger dark brown spots. Lower jaw and thorax uniformly pale or with faint pattern; mouth angle and gill opening dusky; anterior nostril dark, posterior nostril with dark rim. Dorsal fin patterned, becoming dark posteriorly, with pale margin near tip of tail; anal fin patterned basally, with pale margin for entire extent (Böhlke & McCosker 2001).

Similar Species

The overall “snowflake” or lichenous colour pattern of this species is similar to a number of other species found in Australia. Gymnothorax cribroris is characterised and separated from the others by the distinctive dark brown spots on the side of the head and by the low vertebral count. It might be confused with G. margaritophorus that also has dark head spots, but which are consistently in three rows of elongate spots that radiate back from the eye, and that has a higher vertebral count (Böhlke & McCosker 2001).


The specific name cribroris is from the Latin (= sieve) presumably in reference to the 'Body and fins densely overlaid by a network of brown markings which do not form transverse bands...'

Species Citation

Gymnothorax cribroris Whitley 1932, Rec. Aust. Mus. 18(6): 330, pl. 39(2). Type locality: North-west Islet, Capricorn Group, Queensland.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Sieve Moray, Gymnothorax cribroris Whitley 1932


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Böhlke, E.B. & McCosker, J.E. 2001. The moray eels of Australia and New Zealand, with the description of two new species (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae). Records of the Australian Museum 53: 71-102 figs 1-10

Böhlke, E.B., McCosker, J.E. & Smith, D.G. 1999. Family Muraenidae. pp. 1643-1657 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Smith, D.G., Tighe, K. & McCosker, J. 2019. Gymnothorax cribroris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T195719A2407557. Accessed on 23 February 2022.

Whitley, G.P. 1932. Studies in Ichthyology No. 6. Records of the Australian Museum 18(6): 321-348 figs 1-3 pls 36-39

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37060002

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-78 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:46 cm TL


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CAAB distribution map