Many animals in the ocean depend on other animals for living space, food and shelter. They form relationships which may last for a lifetime, and have adapted perfectly to their particular choice of real estate
One of my favourite things in the ocean is animals that live on other animals. There’s a surprising array of critters that have adapted to this somewhat peculiar way of life, often hiding in plain sight thanks to near perfect camouflage. Echinoderms are especially rewarding and harbour several species of shrimp, crabs and squat lobsters that form long-term relationships with their hosts, enjoying free protection, locomotion and food. In general, these types of relationships are called symbiosis – but as in life, not every relationship is equally beneficial to both parties involved.
The most common symbiotic relationship is
commensalism, when one species obtain benefits like food or locomotion from another species, without giving any benefit or causing harm to the host
FEATURE LIVING SPACEA tinyLissocarcinus crabIMAGE: Christian Skauge
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A specimen of Isopoda sp. on a gorgonian, a common clownfish making its home in an anemone, a tropical striped triplefin, a bull hydroid crab in soft coral, and a crinoid goby fishOPPOSITE PAGE: A commensal shrimp, Periclimenes cornutusIMAGES: Christian Skauge