Gymnothorax saxicola

Common Name

Mottlemargin Moray

Year Described

Jordan & Davis, 1891


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: 6-53-140. Three pores on upper jaw.


Body brown above, grading to whitish on the belly. Body and dorsal fin covered with small to medium white or yellow spots, creating a reticulated pattern. Dorsal fin with black saddles broadly outlined in white which interrupts the saddles at regular intervals. Anal fin with a continuous dark margin. A dark ring around eye.


Maximum size to 62cm TL.


Widespread in mostly shallower water from 2-213m, but usually less than 86m. Common over soft bottom habitats.


North Carolina to Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico to the Mobile Bay Delta.


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 nigromarginatus and G. ocellatus. They can be separated by vertebral counts and the color pattern of the dorsal fin.