To oceanographers or sea adventurists, marine life appears quite brutal and it is true to quite an extent. When you go out to explore the sea loaded with your canoe accessories and kayak rigging equipment, you might think of the same thing. However, it is not only the predator prey relationship that exists in the sea. If you get a chance to go deeper into the sea towards the reef, you will find an unusual relationship exists.
In the first look when you see a mouth gaping, and massive grouper approaching towards a shrimp, your instant thought would be that of a predator moving towards its prey. Naturally, you will expect the shrimp to flee, but guess what, it does not. In fact it does quite the opposite that is it swims right in!
Actually that little shrimp was not about to become the meal of that giant grouper, but it intended to welcome its customer. Unusual as it sounds, the grouper is stopping by a cleaning station where the shrimp would be at his service to get spruced up. This happens to be a common practice in coral reef communities.
The cleaner wrasses in these communities are mostly shrimps or goby fishes. However, the customers are numerous; from sharks to sting rays to sea turtles etc. Many different species of fishes turn to coral reefs in order to get cleaned. The fishes that undertake the cleaning process usually nibble away any parasites or dead tissues clinging to the body and mouths of their clients. Waterfront living along Habourfront Ave This unusual relationship deep down the sea between cleaners and clients is a symbiotic one. A relationship that benefits both the parties is unlike the marine life.
Interestingly, this type of mutual relationship has another angle to it. This behavior was first observed in the blue streak cleaner wrasses. It is uncertain whether to classify the behavior as related or not related to cleaning. What happens is that the wrasse moves above its client and touches it gently with its fin.
The behavior is observed only when the client is a predator. This points to an explanation that strategic move is a means to prevent any conflict. Or perhaps, the cleaners make this move when they sense any danger. It appears that touching is a better way to smooth things over, since you never know when the client can get aggressive. And those little shrimps cannot take that chance.
Though, the explanation for this behavior is just a theory, the scientists are unsure as to what brings this about. They are unable to point out what are the benefits of touching to the cleaner or customer. For now, one thing is for sure that it creates a positive effect on the health of the client. Possibly it can lead to the reduction of stress hormone levels, thereby relaxing the customer.
Going with the typical human mentality, another possibility is that this move will make the customer more pleased by the service. So technically, they will keep coming back to the same station over and over again.