Poisonous Relationships

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Seems to work better under water than among us humans. The Spotted Cleaner Shrimp lives inside the poisonous anemone. It is not very poisonous to us, but to fish and other creatures under water it is dangerous and they stay away. If you do not react to the poison it is a perfect shelter. Like the anemone fish (yes, Nemo) the cleaner shrimp also live inside the anemone. It breeds, raise the juveniles and it has its job in here. The job is running a small washing business. When larger fish stop at this station the shrimp eats parasites off their bodies. The fishes understand this so they hover over the anemone open their gill covers and lets the shrimps clean all the parasites. If you lay down at the bottom at a little distance you can watch this happen. All you need is a dive buddy as nerdy as yourself. You can see the shrimps maneuver all over the fishes, even into their mouths to eat parasites. The cleaner shrimp also cleans the host and keep all parasites away. In addition it brings food to the anemone and in that way they have a symbiotic relationship. This poisonous relationship really works.

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You can experience this all over the Caribbean and I have seen these shrimps from Bahamas to Curacao. In my opinion it is more common in south Caribbean. They are almost transparent and fully grown only a couple of inches long, so you have to really look for them. When you see the anemones, swim really close and just take your time. Sometimes they are juveniles and hiding deep inside the anemone. If you are lucky it can be 8-10 individuals in one anemone.

I took this photos diving off Curacao, Dutch Antilles. It was shrimps in almost every anemone and some places it was several in each. I load up with a 100 mm macro, two underwater strobes and a lot of patience and go hunting images. You find more articles on how I work under “Photo Tech Talk”.

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Read more about close encounters with big rays: http://reflections.no/stingray-city/

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