There are many relationships present in the ocean, between many different (and sometimes completely opposite) animals. In science speak, two animals have a relationship if they interact in some way, with one another. These include; predation, competition, and symbiotic relationships. The main relationship I’ll focus on today is symbiosis, which is a close relationship between two individuals over long periods of time. There are three types of symbiosis:
- Commensalism- where one individual benefits from the relationship, and the other is unaffected
- Parasitism- one individual benefits from the relationship, and the other is negatively affected
- Mutualism- both individuals benefit equally from the relationship.
My favourite example of a mutualistic association between two animals comes from an assignment I did at uni on Heron Island, looking at the relationship between the gobie fish and the snapping shrimp. These two live happily together in the same burrow, with the shrimp searching for food and the gobie keeping an eye out for predators. When the gobie sees a predator, it flick it’s tail, warning the foraging shrimp, and they will both return to their burrow lightning quick! In this relationship, the gobie fish benefits by getting food from the shrimp, who benefits by having safety from predators.
In this photo, you can clearly see the gobi fish keeping a look out from the burrow. The shrimp would be there, but is so small and camouflaged its hard to tell from this photo.
Another mutual association that comes to mind is cleaner shrimp and many species of fish. Cleaner shrimp are like the dentists of the ocean. Its quite amazing how many fish let these shrimps on their scales and inside their mouth to clean parasites, without eating them. These shrimps are very trusting of the fish, and eat the parasites, while the fish gets a free mouth clean. These shrimps have even been seen cleaning humans mouths and skin!
This just shows the ocean isn’t all predation and animals fighting, and there are some animals that get along like best friends! If there are any questions, feel free to email me via the contact page, or find me on Instagram and Facebook.