Weird creature of the month – July

garden eel diving thailand

While scuba diving sandy sea beds you may come across what initially appears to be a colony of sea grass sprouting from the sea bottom, but as you get closer the grass begins to shrink and eventually disappear like it was never there to begin with. What you just witnessed was not a mirage, the effects of narcosis or your mind playing tricks on you, but simply one of the most interesting varieties of conger eels known as the Garden Eel.

Garden eels live in large groups in underwater sandbanks. Each eel has to make its own burrow that goes straight down into the sand. They dig these burrows with their tails using a gland in their tail which secretes a slime that makes the sand stick together. This technique ensures that the eels burrow does not collapse. The garden eel eats without leaving its burrow keeps its tail inside and sticks the rest of its body out. With its head exposed garden eels spend most of the day attempting to capture zooplankton that the current delivers them. When it gets scared, it takes its whole body into the burrow closing the burrow with a mucus plug to protect itself. This is the secret to the Garden Eels vanishing act, leaving no trace of the burrow as it retreats.

Did you know? The Garden Eel get its name from their practice of poking their heads from their burrows looking like they are growing as plants in a garden.

you can easily find garden eels at the Similan Islands