If you scuba dive long enough you can get shots like this. The coral hind and wrasse are in a symbiotic dance. The wrasse cleans the bigger fish. The hind is in the grouper family and is very shy. I suppose if you were fire engine red in color, you might not want to draw attention. So occasionally, very occasionally, I get a shot. The ordinary shot is of the tail end as he swims away. And if you are patient and you wait, then sometimes he is pointed straight at you. And if you catch him when he’s getting cleaned by a wrasse, then you have the shot you want. So I am not in a hurry. Patience. Readiness. And my time came. Easy? No! But I was there at the right moment. A lot of things have to align, but then you would not appreciate it unless you tried and failed. I have, and so, believe me when I say that it’s not hard for me anymore. But it’s still not easy. Special! Definitely!
There are no tooth brushes. So nature provided wrasse for the duty. They dart among passing fish. There are even so cleaning stations. Fish come for cleaning like a car wash. Ha! But from time to time you do need to clean your teeth and if you don’t have a brush, a toothpick, or a tongue, it’s gotta be hard to do yourself. Open wide. I got this shot before. Not quite so wide. I could pretty much see the tonsils. Moays have tonsils? And then in darted the wrasse. One gulp and he’s a tasty snack. And he did it more than once. For his part I could not see what the wrasse found so appetizing. Imagine eating the food between someone else’s teeth. Brave fellow. I’m pretty fortunate to have been there to watch. See? The little one is sitting inside looking out at me. Daring me to come in. It’s not so benign. I’ve seen video of a moray tearing the tentacle off an octopus. Maybe the wrasse was the bait and I was dinner?
Yes, I do not recommend that anyone try this. Fish need help to get rid of parasites and to clean their skin and teeth. No, there is not tooth paste with that. And there’s no soap. There is plenty of water. A fish will clean you up. It’s called a wrasse. It swims after passing fish and cleans them. The fish tolerate cleaning because it is beneficial.
Remember the movies where the lion tamer sticks his head in the lion’s mouth? Yes, here’s a brave fellow. He’s just a bite. So I guess the big guy would rather have the cleaning than eat the little fellow. I’d still say, “Don’t try this at home.” Let the professionals do their thing. Or would it be better to say, “Don’t get lost in your work.” Once again, you cannot tell from my image. But this moray was a huge one. It was as big and thick as a human waist. Very big! It’s not fish story. There were four of us who all saw it and we agree. … that’s our story and we are sticking with it.
In the Red Sea there is free cleaning service too. These fish are brave or the bigger fish tolerate them as a necessary service. After all how do you scratch your nose? Don’t be wise and say fish don’t have noses. I knew that. But if you want your windows cleaned or your skin scratched it doesn’t help to eat the help does it? Carry on… And after all the recent land pics, did you think I was done with the Red Sea?
The small blue fish, a wrasse, represents a symbiotic relationship in the sea. They are the local car wash. Fish have no fingers to clean themselves. So the wrasse hang about. Some call their locations ‘cleaning stations.’ Bigger fish come along and the little guys do their task. I’ve seen them within the jaws of moray eels. Hmmm a tasty morsel, just swallow. But larger fish even seek out the wrasse. And there seems to be an unwritten agreement about not eating your cleaning service help. Do fish have ears? None that stick out. Because it is hard to clean behind your ears in the sea?