Sucker fish (remoras) and turtles in a commensal relationship

Photo credit: Mohamed Hassan (ORCA, Marsa Alam)

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Sucker fish and turtle (Marsa Alam)



The Remoras are a group of fish that belong to the family “Echeneidae” and may be called suckerfish. They lack swim bladder; instead they use a sucking disc on the top of their heads to attach themselves to larger marine animals such as sharks, turtles, and manta rays in a model of commensal relationship.

The inserted picture was photographed in a diving site close to Marsa Alam (Red Sea), and shows several remoras specimens riding a sea turtle.

In such symbiotic relationship, remoras remove the parasites (such as copepods) found on the host turtle and clean sloughing epidermal tissue as well as ingesting scraps of food, feces, and small nekton and zooplankton. On the other hand, remoras benefits by using the host as transport and protection, and also feeds on materials dropped by the host.

This symbiotic association between remoras and turtles have been recorded including remora species such as (Echeneis naucrates and Remora remora) and turtle species including the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle, (Chelonia mydas), leatherback sea turtle, (Dermochelys coriacea), and hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).



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