Dragons are fearsome, fire-breathing creatures, or so fairy tales and folklore would have us believe. The dragon moray, with its crooked jaws, angry horns and parade of needle-sharp teeth, evokes the menacing appearance of its mythical namesake.

But appearances can be deceptive. The enchelycore pardalis, to give it its proper title, belongs to the Muraenidae family and is a shy and retiring creature typically found in the tropical temperatures of the Indo-Pacific oceans. A rare find, the dragon moray lives in coral reefs at depths as wide ranging as 8 to 60 meters and is chiefly nocturnal. Its keen sense of smell and large open mouth allows the dragon moray to seek out its prey in the dark caves and crevices of its rocky dwelling places. The dragon moray feasts on live feeder fish, including squid, octopus, crab and shrimp.

The dragon moray crosses the line of beauty with its stunning patterns and colours. Intensely coloured in vibrant, contrasting shades of red, orange, black, white and yellow, the dragon moray’s striking features are accentuated by flared nostrils and horns (also known as nasal tubes) above dark set eyes.

The dragon moray rounds off a superb season of special finds by Diving the Crab in Kenya. Patient divers and those up for a challenge may well spot the dragon moray as it quietly inhabits the waters around Diani Beach.