Frank, the cherished moray eel

Apr 15, 2018 | Marine Life in Hawaii

When we take guests to swim with manta rays, mantas are usually not the only marine life we get to see.

One frequently-seen guest at the manta dive site by the airport is “Frank”, the undulated moray eel. We’re not sure about his gender, but surely Frank could be a girl’s name too!

Frank is a lovable creature who (I can assure you) wouldn’t hurt a human!

Frank the Undulated Moray Eel, caught on camera during a manta ray dive

Frank the Undulated Moray Eel, caught on camera during a manta ray dive

Frank’s Buddies: Marine Life in Hawaii

Hawaii is the most isolated archipelago in the world which makes it an incredible place for rare fauna and flora. About 30% of what you see above and below the surface is endemic to Hawaii. This means those species are native to Hawaii, and often they can only be seen in Hawaii too. 

When you enter the ocean for diving or snorkeling during the day, you will be amazed by the sheer abundance and diversity of marine life right in front of you: butterfly fish, parrotfish, wrasses, surgeonfish, coral, dolphins, rays, whales etc.

These come in all kind of colors, shapes and sizes.

If you want to know more about the sharks, whales, manta rays, eels, and other animals we get to see around here, check out this page about marine life around Kona, Hawaii!

Marine Life along the Coast of the Big Island in Hawaii

Types of Moray Eels in Hawaii

Eels are also plentiful and here is a selection of the types of eels that inhabit the Hawaiian reefs:

A Selection of Different Types of Moray Eels in Hawaii

A Selection of Different Types of Moray Eels in Hawaii

When the night falls you can experience the “changing of the guards” on the reef, meaning the daytime fish start to hide and go to sleep and the “night crew” comes out.

Many eels are diurnal (day time) and nocturnal (night time) creatures. And so is Frank; however over the years he figured out that the manta experience is a “cool” place to get food with little to no effort.

Where are Moray Eels on the Food Chain?

The manta ray night viewpoints are all about food: lights are turned on after the ocean turns dark, the lights attract plankton, the plankton attracts small fish (like goatfish, Hawaiian flag tails, needle nose fish and more), and plankton also attracts the manta rays and Frank, the Eel.

The image above shows two milk crates that dive companies set up with battery-operated lights for the length of the dive… and Frank has been conditioned just like Pavlov’s dogs!

He simply learned that sitting in the crate is an easy way to snatch a fish that hangs around the boxes. Perfect and easy dinner!

Unfortunately, his eyesight is bad so he needs many attempts to be successful.

As a scuba diver, you are briefed that Frank hangs around and it is not uncommon to see him swimming over your shoulder, through your buoyancy control device (BCD), or between your legs!

Hard to believe, right?

Frank the Eel Loves to Swim with Scuba Divers…

Rest assured: Frank has a clean record and has never bitten a human. He probably looks scarier than he is… although I personally think he’s cute!

Over the years I shot many cool scenes with Frank and shared some juicy stuff in the video below. Once you see it you will hopefully agree that he is harmless and also a lovable “guy”.

If you have plans to come for a dive around the Big Island of Hawaii (soon or in the distant future), download our Guide to Swimming with Manta Rays below; it’s got everything you need to know to better prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. Although nothing can really prepare you for meeting amazing marine creatures like Frank!

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tingle

    Cool! Frank seems like a great eel. Keep rockin’ Frank!

    Reply
    • Martina Wing

      YES, we LOVE Frank, the undulated moray eel!

      Reply

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