The Beacon

Blog Tags: Symbiosis

Meet a Tiny Crab Species That’s Not into Long-Term Relationships

Tiny crabs found to not be faithful to their mates

Planes minutus crab living on a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). New research shows that another small crab species (Planes major) that also hitches rides on loggerheads may engage in “risky behavior.” (Photo: BMC Ecology / Flickr Creative Commons)

A tiny crab species, commonly known as flotsam crabs, have quite the luxurious lifestyle. They spend most of their lives hitching free rides on loggerhead sea turtles, catching views of the open ocean as they travel safely nestled between their carapaces and tails. Here, they’re offered safety from predators, and typically ride along with a mate to reproduce and have a friend.


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Thursday Trivia: Sharksucker

nurse shark with sharksuckers

Sharksuckers hitch a ride with a nurse shark. [Image via Wikimedia Commons.]

Imagine a fish with a suction cup on the top of its head – that’s basically what a sharksucker, or remora, is. This fish isn’t a very strong swimmer, so to get around it hitches a ride with a shark, large fish, whale, sea turtle, stingray, or even a ship.

As an added perk, the sharksucker gets to munch scraps from its host’s meals, in addition to the small fish it catches itself. The shark neither suffers nor benefits from its relationship with the sharksucker (tweet us with the term for this type of relationship, and you could win a cool tote bag!) 

Sharksuckers are found throughout warm waters, either attached to a host or swimming freely over corals, where they help keep reef fish clean. These fish can grow up to about a yard long.

Some fishermen have developed a clever use for sharksuckers: they tie line around the fish’s tail, then release it. The sharksucker looks for an animal to attach itself to, then the fisherman reels the pair back in.

Otherwise, sharksuckers are not popular targets for fishermen. In fact, the main risk they face is shrinking populations of sharks and other large marine animals to host them.

You can learn more about sharksuckers from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.


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