Saturday 10 December 2016

6ft lethal moray eel found in Co Kerry

Published 07/03/2016 | 02:30

Marine biologist Kevin Flannery and local man Les Evans with a moray eel, which was recently found washed up in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Marine biologist Kevin Flannery and local man Les Evans with a moray eel, which was recently found washed up in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Sightings of the lethal moray eel in Irish waters are rare, but two in just over a decade is enough to set alarm bells ringing for one marine expert.

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The moray eel that washed ashore in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, last month is only the second that marine expert Kevin Flannery has ever encountered.

The first was caught by a fishing vessel off the coast of Co Cork in 2004.

Usually found in tropical waters or in the Mediterranean, sightings of the moray in these waters are rare, though not unheard of.

And Mr Flannery believes, with climate change, we may see more of them, which is not good news for native species.

The eel was found on the White Strand in Cahersiveen by a local man walking his dog. It was dead but still fresh, suggesting it had only recently died.

Moray eels can grow up to 13ft long. The one found in Cahersiveen is 6ft long and tiger coloured. Like all eels, the moray can be aggressive and has been known to kill.

Mr Flannery, who is director of Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle, believes the moray eel is moving northwards with increased water temperatures.

"People fear them because they have been known to kill with their bites.

"Some people believe they have a toxin in their bite but it's usually that people get bites that are so extreme they go septic and that's what kills," he said.

The eels usually lurk in crevices in rocks and feed on octopus, squid and crustaceans that pass the mouth of their cave.

Irish Independent

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