In Cozumel a common find during a night dive from the shore is the Sharptail Eel. These eels are of the Snake Eel family (Ophichthidae) and are always an enjoyable discovery. Not only are they highly decorated with white spots down the side of a surprisingly-attractive grey body and a head speckled in yellows dots, but furthermore these eels are also extremely curious and unafraid of divers. In fact, you almost wonder if these eels are entirely blind as they seem completely oblivious to us or our underwater lighting.
Sharptail eels named appropriately
You will only find them moving about the substrate on their bellies, slithering much like their land locked namesake. They keep their face pointed downwards so their well-developed sense of smell can detect prey buried in the silt and algae. Although you can sometimes find them wandering in the open in hours of ample sunlight, they are much more commonly seen once the sun has set because they are nocturnal. They prefer the shallow rubble zones near coastlines, and thus are easy finds during an evening snorkel in addition to night scuba dives from shore.
But why “Sharptail eel”?
Because the Sharptail eel has the ability to dig into the the substrate of soft sand and / or silt using it’s tail and also it’s head. If you see one in the mid afternoon, it is often by result of this burrowing. The Sharptail eel will dig down to the point where only the tip of it’s face with nostrils are exposed above the sand – a feat more impressive once you realize this animal can grow up to 3 feet / 1 meter n length.
A keen eye by your Divemaster can spot them and ensure you enjoy it’s beauty.
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