Many species live alongside each other, filling slightly different niches. But some actively work together.
1. The grouper and the eel
Groupers are fish that feed on smaller fish, but their prey often escapes by hiding in small holes. So they use a special set of gestures to direct moray eels to flush it out.
Groupers have also been observed cooperating with octopuses (yes, that’s the correct plural) in the same way, an example of which can be seen in the coral reef episode of Blue Planet II.
2. The ant and the caterpillar
Lycaenids are a family of butterfly species, most of whose caterpillars have a symbiotic relationship with ants.
The caterpillars exude a sweet nectar which provides nutrition for the ants, and in return the ants protect the caterpillar from predators.
This relationship may be somewhat one-sided, though. The ants don’t rely on the caterpillar as a sole source of food, so the caterpillar may use the nectar to manipulate their behaviour and make them stick around.
3. The turtle and the cleaner fish
Back to the ocean, various species of turtle and fish have developed a symbiotic relationship where the turtles go to what’s referred to as a cleaning station.
There, the waiting fish help get rid of parasites and other buildup like algae, which benefits both the turtle and the fish.
Header image by Wexor Tmg.
This article was written as part of my November writing challenge, a NaNoWriMo-inspired attempt to write one short, snappy article a day in November. Please excuse brevity, but let me know if I’ve missed anything important!