The Freckled Snake Eel, Callechelys lutea, is one of the more interesting eel species in Hawaii. They borrow into the sand by day, appearing to labor heavily when breathing. Their eyes are typically closed and can be approach quite closely if done slowly. Even though you only see only its head sticking up from the sand, the Freckled Snake Eel can be up to about a meter in length under the sand. Take a little time to watch this eel’s behavior if you are lucky enough to spot one.
I photographed this Freckled Snake Eel at Molokini Crater just off of Maui in Hawaii at about 45 ft (13 m). The snake eels can be found in the sand channels that run out from the remaining wall of the old volcano. As you traverse the site and swim across the sand channels from one group or finger of coral to another, make sure to check the sand closely and you might be able to spot a Freckled Snake Eel. You can also find these eels out swimming at night but it is quite rare. If you do spot a Freckled Snake Eel approach slowly and spend a minute or two watching this interesting creature.
The Freckled Snake Eel is one of 15 families of true eels found in the coral reefs surrounding these islands. The eel is typically light yellow in color and has numerous black spots covering its body. These eels typically dwell at a depth range of 4 to 24 metres (13 to 79 ft), and forms burrows in sand sediments. Males can reach a maximum of 104 centimetres (41 in). This eel is another of the many endemic marine species in Hawaii.