Gymnothorax ocellatus

Common Name

Ocellated Moray

Year Described

Agassiz, 1831


Body elongate with a tapering caudal region and well developed dorsal and anal finfolds. Trunk a little shorter than tail. Rear of head thickens behind eye. Snout blunt. Jaw closes completely. Teeth wide and serrated. A single row of fangs on edge of upper jaw. There are 0-3 median fangs. Often a small patch of teeth on roof of mouth. Lower jaw with a single row of teeth. Anterior nostril is a small tube. Rear nostril an external, slightly raised opening above anterior margin of eye. Eye large. Throat region grooved. Gill opening a simple hole. Dorsal origin well anterior to gill opening. Fins confluent around tail. Vertebral (pre-dorsal, pre-anal, total) formula: 6-50-145. Three pores on upper jaw.


Body brown above, grading to whitish on the belly. Body and dorsal fin covered with widely spaced small white or yellow spots. Dorsal fin dark, interrupted at regular intervals by white saddles along the entire length. Anal fin with alternating white and dark saddles. A dark ring around eye.


Maximum size to 61cm TL.


Caught from 1-160m, but most common in shallower (<90m) water over soft bottoms.


Found throughout the Caribbean Sea, including both islands and continental locations. Also found to S. Brazil. Absent from the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. coast.


Böhlke, E.B. 2002. Muraenidae (pp 700-718). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 32: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae to Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Other Notes

Part of a complex of species that includes Gymnothorax saxicola and G. nigromarginatus. They can be separated by vertebral counts and the color pattern of the dorsal fin.