Gymnothorax vicinus

Common Name

Purplemouth Moray

Year Described

Castelnau, 1855


Body elongate yet robust with well developed dorsal and anal finfolds. Trunk a little shorter than tail. Head tapers anteriorly. Snout blunt. Jaw closes completely. Teeth smooth. A single row of strong teeth in the upper jaw flanked by a small inner row. Roof of mouth with a single row of teeth. Lower jaw with a single row of strong teeth flanked by a smaller inner row. 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 formula: 5-51-133.


Body grayish-brown, brown, or purplish-brown with faint darker and lighter spots than often overlap and give the fish a marbled or mottled appearance close up but often looks rather plain at a distance. The contrast and extent of spotting varies by individual. Often a golden wash. Dorsal margin body colored or dark with a thin pale outer edge. Eye golden yellow. Inside of mouth purplish. Young dark brown with a white lower jaw.


Maximum size to 122cm TL.


Known from reefs and soft bottoms from 2-145m, but most likely <50m.


North Carolina to S. Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Also Bermuda.


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.