Mutualism on the reef


One of the best known mutualist relationships on the reef (a relationship that is beneficial for both parties involved) is that of the cleaner wrasse and the larger fish or rays on the reef.The cleaner wrasse, in this image the smaller fish (a Bluestreak cleaner wrasse), spends its time at a 'cleaning station' on the reef. This area is frequented by the larger fish who stop by every now and then for a 'clean'. The small wrasse will pick parasites and dead tissue from the skin, gills and even mouth of the larger fish (in this case a brightly coloured sweetlip). The wrasse gets an easy meal and the other fish benefits from being free of any harmful parasites which might otherwise be impossible to shake.This image was captured by survey photographer Jayne Jenkins on our final Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Expedition in late December 2012.

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