SPECIES THAT CLEAN

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Oceans'11 -

Keep­ing the un­der­wa­ter world clean and healthy is a full-time job for some species. Of course, a bal­anced ecosys­tem in­volves the par­tic­i­pa­tion of ev­ery life form, but there is also a whole host of crea­tures that have spe­cific roles – clean­ing other an­i­mals, fil­ter­ing the wa­ter, and keep­ing some other species in check.

Sci­en­tists have re­vealed the im­por­tance of some of th­ese clean­ing species – ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Cur­rent Bi­ol­ogy, in­di­vid­ual rab­bit­fish, for ex­am­ple, visit clean­ers ev­ery five min­utes in some places! Sadly, th­ese vi­tal un­der­wa­ter in­hab­i­tants are of­ten the first to dis­ap­pear when the en­vi­ron­ment be­comes too pol­luted.

Meet the un­der­wa­ter “clean team”! Some are part-timers, oth­ers clean around the clock, and all of them mat­ter.

(Chaetodon kleinii) Dru­pella, dimidia­tus (Labroides Labroides bi­color) (Tha­las­soma lunare)

Some of the most dra­matic and in­ti­mate en­coun­ters with marine life oc­cur on vis­its to es­tab­lished “clean­ing sta­tions”. Th­ese are places where an­i­mals will go to have par­a­sites, dead skin, bac­te­ria and mu­cus re­moved by other species. Clean­ers help other...

Sponges have one of the most vi­tal roles on the reef – they fil­ter huge quan­ti­ties of wa­ter, re­mov­ing im­pu­ri­ties. Some sponges also pro­duce mas­sive amounts of oxy­gen, around three times what they con­sume. Check out pages 28–30 for more in­for­ma­tion on...

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