Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Among the most spectacular of eels are the moray eels of tropical waters. Most are large, averaging five to six feet in length, but some rarely get more than six inches long and others can reach ten feet. The moray eels are found in rocky areas and on coral reefs, where they find crevices and small caves in which to hide. My colleague, Dr. Greg Tolley, described a moray eel as “Nature's way of making the biggest possible fish fit into the smallest possible hole.” These eels are flattened from side to side, their skull bones have been pushed back to form a long, narrow head. They lack paired fins, their gills have been reduced to small round openings, and they have a thick, tough, leathery skin. A moray backs into a hole. Once inside, it uses the strong muscles of the back part of its body to wrap around rock or coral to anchor itself in place. A moray eel then sits at the entrance to its home with its mouth open, ready to grab any potential meal that swims by. Moray eels are often aggressive and territorial, but during the breeding season, a male and female are sometimes seen together. As they say, “That's Amore!”'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.