Lowfin Moray, Gymnothorax porphyreus (Guichenot 1848)

A Lowfin Moray, Gymnothorax porphyreus, in the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand, April 2014. Source: Phil Bendle / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A large dark grey to brown moray with darker mottling, spots and speckles on the head, body and fins, a dark snout and mouth angle, distinctly darker nostrils and head pores, and a dusky to dark gill opening without a defined black blotch. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Gymnothorax porphyreus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3822

Lowfin Moray, Gymnothorax porphyreus (Guichenot 1848)

More Info


Off Ballina to off Port Macquarie, New South Wales, also the Lord Howe Province and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the South Pacific: Northern New Zealand including the Kermadecs, Easter Island, Chile and Peru, Juan Fernández Islands.


Predorsal vertebrae 5–8; preanal vertebrae 57–62; total vertebrae 137–144. A large moray, elongate when small, large specimens stout, depth at gill opening 12–20 and depth at anus 13–30 in TL; anus near midbody, preanal length 1.9– 2.3 in TL. Head moderate to short, its length 7.3–10.5 in TL; snout short and broad, 4.6–6.1 in HL; jaws moderate, upper jaw 2.0–3.0 in HL. Eye above midgape, slightly closer to rictus, 9.7–19 in HL. Anterior nostril in short tube; posterior nostril above and before eye, raised or in short tube with flared crenulate margin. Head pores typical; 2 branchial pores, the second pore just above gill opening; dorsal-fin origin above or before first pore. Gill opening a diagonal slit at midside.  MVF 6-59-140 (26). Teeth strong, triangular, smooth, partially biserial, moderate in number. Main row of outer premaxillary teeth usually 6, with 3–12 small outer teeth present in both small and large specimens; usually 3 caniniform teeth on midline. Inner row of 1–6 long slender maxillary teeth anteriorly, outer row of 10–18 shorter stout teeth changing little in size. Vomerine teeth short and sharp, usually in single row of 6–12 teeth. Dentary teeth 18–27, the first 4–7 large and increasing in size, then abruptly smaller, changing little in size; outer row of 2–15 short pointed teeth flanking main row anteriorly, extending back in some specimens.


103 cm.


Overall colour dark grey or brown with darker mottling, head, body and fins with similar coloration; nostrils and head pores noticeably dark. Snout dark, mouth angle dark, gill opening dusky or dark, but not in a defined black blotch. Fins of small specimens (<250 mm) with pale margin or pale posteriorly; those of larger specimens with body coloration.

Similar Species

Similar in overall colour to the yellowmargin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, a tropical species with the gill opening within a defined black blotch, head pores not noticeably dark, and a pale (yellow-green) margin on the posterior fins.

Species Citation

Murenophis porphyreus Guichenot 1848, Historia física y política de Chile. 2(2) Zoologica 342, pl. 11(fig. 2). Type locality: Juan Fernández Island, Chile.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Lowfin Moray, Gymnothorax porphyreus (Guichenot 1848)


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 

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

Francis, M.P. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. figshare. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4428305.v2

Francis, M.P. & Randall, J.E. 1993. Further additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 118-135.

Guichenot, A. 1848. Peces de Chile. pp. 137–370 in Gay, C. (ed.) Historia física y política de Chile. Vol. 2 Part 2 Zoologica. Paris. See ref at BHL

McCosker, J.E. & Stewart, A.L. 2006. Additions to the New Zealand marine eel fauna with the description of a new moray, Anarchias supremus (Teleostei: Muraenidae), and comments on the identity of Gymnothorax griffini Whitley & Phillips. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 36: 83-95

McCosker, J. & Béarez, P. 2010. Gymnothorax porphyreus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T183859A8189838. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183859A8189838.en. Downloaded on 04 February 2018.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Stewart, A.L. & McCosker, J.E. 2015. 38 Family Muraenidae. pp. 224-237 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37060066

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-13 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:103 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map