Creature feature ribbon eel

Creature Feature – Ribbon Eel

  |   Creature Feature

The ultra cute Ribbon Eel


If you dive at the pretty fishing village of Padang Bai, Bali, you may have the chance to see one of the cutest creatures, the Ribbon Eel.




The Ribbon Eel is part of the moray eel family that have high dorsal fins, expanded anterior nostrils and a long and thin body that can attain 94cm for the male and can reach up to 130cm for the female.


It can live up to 20 years in the wild and has the peculiarity of changing sex and colour during all its life. The Ribbon Eel can be found in lagoons and reefs in Indo-Pacific ocean, East Africa to southern Japan, Australia and French Polynesia.


You can find them in corals and burying their long bodies under the sand or in rocks and peeping just their head out.




When the transgender challenged Ribbon Eel is born, it’s a juvenile male and its colour is jet black with a thin yellow line on its back. Then it will change colour to a beautiful electric blue.


When it reaches its final form, it turns a bright yellow, becomes a female and will be able to lay eggs. How cool is that?


Sometimes the Ribbon Eel can change earlier into female to keep the species thriving.


Another peculiarity to this species is that it has to keep its mouth open nearly all the time to breathe.




The Ribbon Eel uses its expanded nostrils to sense their prey and attract them in its cave and then it uses its strong jaw to catch them. They are carnivorous and love to eat little fishes like guppies, fathead minnows and other crustaceans. It can skip eating for almost a month and still survive.


But in captivity it will stop eating completely and eventually die.


It’s great for divers as they are no good for the aquarium trade!


Come and see if you can spot one in our Padang Bai day trip.


Thanks to Uwe Jacobs for this amazing picture.