Tightening its muscular body to make itself rigid, the spotted garden eel drives its pointy tail deep into the sandy sea floor. The skin in its tail contains a hard substance, so it isn’t hurt. Once the eel is deep enough, it wiggles its dorsal fin, pushing sand out of the hole. Slime from the eel’s skin cements the walls of its burrow, preventing cave-ins.
CLASS: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
ORDER: Aulopiformes (lizardfishes and relatives)
FAMILY: Congridae (marine eels)
GENUS/SPECIES: Heteroconger hassi
Size: Up to 16 in (40 cm)
Depth: 23–150 ft (7–45 m)
Habitat: Sandy bottoms near coral reefs in Indo-Pacific oceans from the Red Sea to Australasia and in the Pacific from New Caledonia to the Ryukyu Islands