We're unwrapping a special treat for our December Fish of the Month: presenting the Ribbon Eel, Rhinomuraena quaesita!

Survey Regions: Ribbon Eels are found throughout the tropical Pacific and parts of the Indian Ocean, in REEF's Central Indo-Pacific (CIP), South Pacific (SOP), and Indian Ocean & Red Sea (IORS) survey regions. Click the links to view sightings reports for this species in each region: CIP and SOP. Ribbon Eels have not yet been reported on a survey in the IORS region, but they are known to live in the waters around East Africa.

Size: They grow to about 4 feet long.

Identifying Features: Ribbon Eels have various color phases, depending on their life stage! Juvenile Ribbon Eels are solid black. As they age, they develop color. The most recognizable color phase is that of the male, with a brilliant blue body and yellow dorsal fin, snout, lower jaw, and eyes. Female Ribbon Eels are completely yellow. Males and females also have large, fan-shaped nostrils and chin barbels.

Fun Facts: All Ribbon Eels are born male. As they get older and larger, they develop female organs and are able to lay eggs. Ribbon Eels are thought to live up to 20 years! They are rarely seen swimming and spend most of their times in burrows on the sea floor. They can be found on coral reefs as well as areas with sand or rubble, and occasionally two Ribbon Eels will occupy the same burrow.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our next Fish of the Month.

Photos by Florent Charpin.