Woodward's Moray, Gymnothorax woodwardi McCulloch 1912

Other Names: Western Moray, Woodward's Eel, Woodward's Reef Eel, Woodward's Reef-eel

Woodward's Moray, Gymnothorax woodwardi, at Woodman Point, Coogee, Perth, Western Australia, February 2020. Source: jmartincrossley / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A moderately large pale yellowish- to reddish-brown moray with a brown reticulated pattern of about 3 rows of large polygonal pale spots above, pale and unpatterned ventrally, and a pale head with darker streaks on the throat. The dorsal fin is patterned with a pale outer margin, and the anal fin is dark with a narrow pale margin. The species has very slender, stiletto-like teeth.

Video of a Western Moray taken on a night dive at Ammo Jetty, Woodmans Point, Western Australia

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Gymnothorax woodwardi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3557

Woodward's Moray, Gymnothorax woodwardi McCulloch 1912

More Info


Endemic to Western Australia, from Augusta in the south, to Carnarvon, just north of Shark Bay. Inhabits inshore and offshore reefs at depths to about 250 m.


A moderately large moray, depth at gill opening 12–24 and depth at anus 14–23 in TL; anus before midbody, preanal length 2.1–2.3 in TL. Head 7.7–8.6 in TL; snout elongate, 4.4–5.4 in HL, upper jaw 2.0–2.6, and eye 9.3–11 in HL, slightly closer to rictus. Anterior nostril in long tube; posterior nostril a pore above anterior margin of eye. Head pores typical; 2 branchial pores above and before gill opening; dorsal-fin origin above or before first pore, closer to rictus than to gill opening. Gill opening at midside. Predorsal vertebrae 4–5; preanal vertebrae 56–58; total vertebrae 134–141; MVF 4-57-137 (5)


Body colour pale tan with brown reticulum outlining pattern of about 3 rows of large polygonal pale spots dorsally, pale and unpatterned ventrally. Head pale, with dark or dusky gular streaks and mouth angle; pale and unpatterned ventrally. Dorsal fin patterned or dusky basally, with pale margin posteriorly; anal fin dark basally with narrow pale margin.


The species is named for Mr. Bernard H. Woodward, Director of the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery, "for enabling' me to examine and write. upon this extremely interesting collection, and also for various kindnesses connected with the publication of the paper".

Species Citation

Gymnothorax woodwardi McCulloch 1912, Records of the Western Australian Museum 1(2): 80, fig. 1. Type locality: Pelsart Island, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Woodward's Moray, Gymnothorax woodwardi McCulloch 1912


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 https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.53.2001.1325

Böhlke, E.B. & Smith, D.G. 2002. Type catalogue of Indo-Pacific Muraenidae. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 152: 89-172 https://doi.org/10.1635/0097-3157(2002)152[0089:TCOIPM]2.0.CO;2

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds.) The Rottnest Island fish book: An information and identification guide. 2nd ed. Perth, Western Australia : Aqua Research & Monitoring Service.

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F. (ed.) The Marine Fauna and Flora of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. 

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. 

McCulloch, A.R. 1912. Notes on some Western Australian fishes. Records of the Western Australian Museum 1(2): 78-97 figs 1-2 pls 9-13 See ref online

Smith, D.G. 2012. A checklist of the moray eels of the world (Teleostei: Anguilliformes: Muraenidae). Zootaxa 3474: 1-64

Smith, D.G., McCosker, J. & Tighe, K. 2019. Gymnothorax woodwardi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T195806A2420592. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T195806A2420592.en. Downloaded on 13 November 2020.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37060054

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-244 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:58 cm


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