Symbiosis in the Sea

The ocean is full of surprises and danger, so it’s a pretty good idea to team up with another sea creature, especially if it’s bigger and badder. When two different kinds of living things form a close partnership, it is called symbiosis (say sim-BEE-oh-sis).

Check out these ocean partners. Use the key to help you decide if it sounds like a good relationship.

A) both animals benefit

B) one animal benefits and the other doesn’t mind

C) one animal benefits but the other doesn’t

Cleaner shrimp + Moray eel

A) Cleaner shrimp munch on nasty parasites and crumbs on a moray eel’s mouth. Morays wouldn’t think of turning the shrimp into a snack.


Sea anemone + Clownfish

A) Clownfish hide from predators in sea anemone, and they clean away parasites to say thanks!


Shark + Remora    

A) Remoras attach themselves to sharks and eat annoying parasites plus all their extra food bits. The sharks stay happy and healthy.

Whale + Barnacles

B) Barnacles hitch a ride with whales, so they can go where whales go and eat all the plankton they want.


Barnacles + Sea turtles

C) Barnacles attach themselves to sea turtle shells, but they weigh these guys down so they can’t swim or breathe. They also give sea turtles all kinds of germs!

No friend Zone!

Parasites can cause infections, diseases, and pain.

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