Green Moray, Gymnothorax prasinus (Richardson 1848)

Other Names: Brown Reef Eel, Green Eel, Green Reef Eel, Pettifogger, Southern Green Moray, Sydney Green Eel, Yellow Moray

A Green Moray, Gymnothorax prasinus. Source: Steve Dreezer. License: All rights reserved


A common inhabitant on temperate rocky reefs on Australia's east and west coasts, where they are often seen poking their heads from holes and crevices, often with their jaws agape. 

Identifying features:

  • Body yellowish to greenish, head usually yellow
  • Upper and lower jaws with a line of dark pores
  • Despite the name Green Moray, this eel ranges from a yellowish to a greenish colour, thought to be due in part to a heavy coating of greenish mucous. Morays are armed with a ferocious set of teeth.

    Cite this page as:
    Dianne J. Bray, Gymnothorax prasinus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

    Green Moray, Gymnothorax prasinus (Richardson 1848)

    More Info


    Widespread in temperate waters of southern Australia, from Moreton Bay, Queensland (27°S) to Shark Bay (26º08´S), Western Australia. Also found at Lord Howe Island.

    The Green Moray inhabits bays, estuaries, harbours, rocky headlands and deeper offshore areas along the coast in depths of 1-40 m. Individuals live in holes, crevices, caves and under ledges on rocky reefs often near kelp or other macroalgae. Individuals have also been found in objects such as submerged pipes.

    This species is the only moray eel found in Tasmanian waters, and is also common in parts of New Zealand.


  • EPBC Act: Not listed
  • IUCN Red List: Not evaluated
  • Etymology

    Gymnothorax is from the Greek gymno, meaning 'bare' or 'naked', and thorax meaning 'chest', in reference to the lack pectoral and pelvic fins. The species name prasinus means 'leek green', referring to the and refers to the moray's green colour.


    Dianne J. Bray




    Green Moray, Gymnothorax prasinus (Richardson 1848)


    Allen, G.R, McCosker, J.E., Cross, N.J., Bray, D.J. & Hoese, D.F. 2006. Muraenidae. pp. 243-259 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of AustraliaVolume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp. [255] 

    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 [93] 

    Böhlke, E.B. & Smith, D.G. 2002. Type catalogue of Indo-Pacific Muraenidae.Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 152: 89-172 [140] 

    Castle, P.H.J. 1994. Families Serrivomeridae, Muraenidae, Nemichthyidae, Congridae. pp. 205-215 figs 182-191 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs [208] 

    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. [51] 

    Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. [39]

    Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50 [17]

    Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs [74]

    Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762 [721]

    Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. [32] 

    Kuiter, R.H. 1997. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers I-xvii, 434 pp. [30] 

    Smith, D.G. 2008. Family Muraenidae. pp. 158-160 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. [160]

    Whitley, G.P. 1946. Australian marine eels. Australian Museum Magazine 9(2): 60-65 11 figs [63] 

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37060006

    Danger:Long fang-like teeth

    Depth:0-40 m

    Habitat:Reefs, in holes & crevices

    Max Size:90 cm

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