Symbiotic Relationships of the Ocean Biome

Symbiotic: A Cooperative Relationship (as between two persons or a group)
Definition courtesy of Merriam Webster

Symbiotic Relationships of the Ocean Biome

Relationship One: The Clown Fish and the Anemone

Place: Coral Reef, Indo-Pacific Ocean

The lone clown fish swims lazily around the coral reef, seeking its home. It turns right at the yellow sponge, and there it is: The anemone, long, purplish-tinted white tentacles sway in the ocean’s current. Before him, an unlucky Moorish Idol swims into the anemone. An electric charge fills the air, and the Moorish Idol is no more. Silently, the clown fish drifts into the grasp of the tentacles, unharmed.

How is this possible? The clown fish and the Anemone have a mutual symbiotic relationship, meaning they both benefit from the other. The Clownfish takes shelter, because it is a bad swimmer and be easy prey without it. In turn, the clownfish protects the anemone from attacking Butterfly Fish. Talk about teamwork!

Relationship Four: The Harlequin Snake Eel and the Banded Sea Snake

When you think about it, these two really have nothing in common, except for the Symbiotic Relationship of Mimicry. The Harlequin Snake eel would be viewed as prey by some species, whereas the Banded Sea Snake is a predator. So, the Harlequin Snake Eel is disguised as a Banded Sea Snake for protection. You know, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Relationship Three: The Whale Shark and the Remora

Looking up. You see a huge, hulking figure drift silently across the vast ocean. All you see is a wide expanse of light grey- but wait, what is this? Your gaze zeros in on the dark interruption. There, on the underbelly of the shark- a small fish, with big fins, attached to the shark. But what is it doing there?

The little fish is called A Remora. But why doesn’t the shark eat it? The Shark and the Remora have a symbiotic relationship called Commensalism. This means that The remora benefits from the shark’s presence, but the shark is unaffected. The Remora stays along for the ride to catch scraps of food from the shark’s meals, and clean off pieces of the meal from the shark’s body.

Relationship Four: The Barnacle and the Crab

You see a crab, sitting motionlessly on the ocean floor. It seems to be in pain, and it gives off the impression that its shell is too tight. But why is that? Don’t they molt their exoskeleton? The answer is yes, they do, but a tiny organism isn’t letting them.

Sometimes, barnacles or isopods crawl up under the shell of a crab, attaching itself under the carapace. This can sometimes render the crab unable to molt its exoskeleton, or unable to reproduce. This type of symbiotic relationship is called parasitism, because the barnacle or isopod is benefiting by the crab’s [presence, but the crab is harmed.

Relationship Five: The Spider Crab and the Algae

You are wading through shallow water, picking up rocks and examining them. You pick a one particular rock with a swath of algae on it. You are about to put it down….but, wait a minute…what is that spiky thing attached to it? Looking closer, you see that it seems to be some kind of spider.

Actually, it’s a Spider Crab. It’s called that because of the spider leg-like appendages on either side of its body. The Spider Crab buries itself in the algae for camouflage and protection. This type of symbiotic relationship is also called Commensalism, because the Spider Crab benefits and the Algae is unaffected.