This is a relationship between two organisms in which the organisms benefit each other. There are many of these in our oceans, and it’s fun to spot them and try to work out the benefits for each.
Three of my favorites – I love to hover around and watch these little guys. They seem so busy getting on with life that divers just don’t seem to get in the way.
Remoras are kind of cool and also kind of creepy. They have large suckers with which they cling to host animals. The remora can move around the host and remove parasites and loose skin, and the remora itself benefits from the host’s protection and the constant flow of water over its gills. Oh, and they eat the host’s poo. I’ve seen them on turtles, sharks, rays, bigger fish, boats, and the worst bit is when they try and attach to my leg. That’s just creepy.
Anemone fish are the cute ones that will defend their host from us. It always makes me laugh to see these little fish that weigh grams trying to fight off an adult diver! The presence of the fish attracts other fish to the anemone where it is stung by the anemone’s venomous tentacles and so can then be eaten. The fish also removes waste from its host. The anemone provides protection from the fishes predators. Win win again.
Shrimps and gobies – these guys are great. You spot them by looking for holes in the sand surrounded by little shells. The goby fish is usually poking its head out of the hole whilst the hardworking shrimp digs out the sand that falls in. The shrimp excavates and maintains a burrow used by both animals whilst the goby, which has far superior eyesight, acts as a lookout for predators. The shrimp maintains almost constant contact with the fish with an antenna. Get too close and they both head for home and hide.