Symbiosis, a phenomenon that occurs in nature, is when two unlikely animals have close physical interaction with one another. There are three types of symbiotic relationships.
- Mutualism – When both animals benefit from the interaction.
- Commensalism – When one animals benefits and the other animal neither benefits or is harmed by the interaction.
- Parasitism – When one animal benefits from the interaction and the other animal is negatively affected by the intereaction.
In the ocean, one of the most famous symbiotic relationships occur between clownfish and sea anemones. This relationship was made popular by the Pixar film Finding Nemo.
Here are six other symbiotic relationships that occur among marine animals:
1. Boxer Crabs and Anemones
The boxer crab carries around two sea anemones on its claws. The anemones help the crab fight off other animals with stinging cells along their tentacles. In return, the anemone feeds on scraps from meals eaten by the crab. This relationship is an example of mutualism.
2. Feather Stars and Crinoid Shrimp
In this relationship, the crinoid shrimp receives shelter, protection and feeds off the star’s waste. It is often hard to find the crinoid shrimp on the feather star / crinoid. This is because the shrimp camouflages and adopts the markings and colors of the feather star. This relationship is an example of commensalism.
3. Manta Ray and Remora (sucker fish)
In this relationship, the manta ray is cleansed of parasites along it body by the remora. Remoras feed on the parasites found on the manta ray. This is a mutual relationship.
4. Sea Cucumber and Emperor Shrimp
The emperor shrimp seeks out shelter and protection on large, slow moving animals such as the sea cucumber. They also receive scraps from whatever its host eats. This is a commensal relationship.
5. Moray Eels and Cleaner Shrimp
Cleaner shrimp get their names because they clean parasites off of large animals such as eels. In this relationship, the eel is being relieved of parasites while the shrimp is being fed. This a mutual relationship.
6. Swimming Crab and Barnacle
Barnacles sometimes grow on the reproductive organ of the swimming crab. This prevents the crab from reproducing. This is an example of a parasitic relationship.