Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mutual Symbiosis: Moray Eel & Wrasse

As threatening as an moray eel may look, it is one of many underwater creatures that take place in a symbiotic relationship with the Laborites Dimidiatus, or more commonly the Blue Streak Cleaner Wrasse. The eel becomes the host for the wrasse and benefits by the wrasse cleaning out microscopic parasites within its body. Many of these parasites are harmful to the host and can feast on the flesh, tissue, blood and mucus, as well as cause infections and outbreaks of diseases. In return for the cleaning the wrasse is gaining its necessary nitriteon. However one eel generally does not have enough nutrition for the fish so it bounces around creating other symbiotic relationships with eels to get that food. Usually these interactions happen in what is called cleaning stations, usually under coral reefs, the fish gather for eels and fish to come and get cleaned. 

The Blue Streak does a dance to initiate the symbiotic relationship. The dance helps the host identify the fish as a cleaner and not as prey. This can also be determined by identifying the wrasse by the streak going down their back. Where the fish cleans is situational depending upon who its cleaning and where the largest amount of mucus is. The fish generally moves between the gills, mouth, and body depending upon the host. 

Sophie Weber

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