Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris (Shaw & Nodder 1795)

Other Names: Guineafowl Moray, Turkey Moray, White-mouth Moray, White-spotted Moray

A Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris, at Lord Howe Island, February 2010. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A dark brown to blackish moray covered in small white spots, with the inside of the mouth white, and a yellow tail tip.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Gymnothorax meleagris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3812

Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris (Shaw & Nodder 1795)

More Info


Coral Bay, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to the Solitary Islands, New South Wales; also at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian ocean, and the Lord Howe Province (and possibly Norfolk Island) in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific at depths to 53 m.
Inhabits crevices and holes in coral-rich areas of lagoon and seaward reefs, from the intertidal region to about 53 m. Individuals have been seen  hunting their prey on exposed reefs at low tide.


Vertebrae 127-132. 



Preys mostly on fishes, but also feeds on crustaceans.


Taken with various nets in parts of its range. Reportedly responsible for ciguatera poisoning.


The specific name is from meleagris (= guinea fowl), presumably in reference to the white spots covering the body that resemble the spotted colour pattern of the Guinea Fowl.

Species Citation

Muraena meleagris Shaw & Nodder 1795, The Naturalist's Miscellany Vol. 6: no page number, Pl. 220. Type locality: "Southern Ocean".


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris (Shaw & Nodder 1795)


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

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.  

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. 

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

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp. 

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202. See ref online

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) 

Jordan, D.S. & Evermann, B.W. 1905. The aquatic resources of the Hawaiian Islands. I. The shore fishes of the Hawaiian Islands, with a general account of the fish fauna. Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission 23(1): 1-574 figs 1-229 pls 1-65 col. pls 1-73 

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. 

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. 

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp. 

Oxley, W.G., Emslie, M., Muir, P. & Thompson, A.A. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve, March 2004. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Science i-vii, 1-67 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. 

Shaw, G. & Nodder, F.P. 1795. The Naturalist's Miscellany, or coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described from nature. London Vol. 6 pls 196–230, unnumbered pages. See ref at BHL

Smith, D.G., McCosker, J. & Tighe, K. 2019. Gymnothorax meleagris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T195754A2412930. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T195754A2412930.en. Downloaded on 28 April 2021.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37060045

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-53 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:120 cm TL

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