A “Deep” Cleaning
Filming dive instructor, Brad Crawford, getting a “deep” cleaning by cleaner shrimp in Njao Gap of Pemba Island.
Brad approaches a cleaning station on a wall of reef approximately 20 meters deep, full of cleaner shrimp, ready and waiting for a potential client fish, moray eel or other ocean creature to approach, so they can clean their teeth and skin of parasites. This is a widely cited example of cleaning symbiosis: a relationship in which both parties benefit. The fish benefit by having parasites removed from them, and the shrimp gain the nutritional value of the parasites. They treat Brad, just like they would a fish, he opens his mouth, gets close, and they hop right in!
In the second part of the video you’ll notice the dance that cleaner shrimp do. This is for when a potential client fish (or me with a videocamera) swims up close to the cleaning station, several cleaner shrimp perform a “rocking dance”, a side-to-side movement to attract the client. Starved shrimp rock more frequently than the others, suggesting that there is competition between the shrimp that need the nutritional aid of the fish and the shrimps that are satisfied.