Animals of the Reef
Almost every animal of the coral reef ecosystem contains one or more parasite on or in its body. Of Caribbean fish, the most common parasites are arthropods called isopods. They attach almost anywhere on their hosts, most notably to the skin, gills, and fins. Isopods tend to pierce into their hosts and feed on blood and tissue fluids, causing lesions. Fortunately, there exist species such as the cleaner wrasse, which swims over the entire body of the host fish, picking parasites from the scales. Distinguished with a bright blue and yellow band, the cleaner wrasse is the best known of cleaner fishes and is even known to have "cleaning stations" where fish line up to be cleaned. When it is necessary for the wrasse to enter the mouth and gills of the host fish to remove additional debris, the wrasse vibrates its fins while cleaning as a reminder of its presence. In this way, a working relationship exists.
These are just a few examples of the infinite number of working relationships of organisms in the sea. Due to the relatively small area these organisms often live in, they have evolved in ways to effectively coexist with each other.
Green Reef is holding their 3rd Annual Reef Festival on Sunday, April 25th, a day of games, marine life touch tanks, glass bottom trips to the reef, music, food, and more. Stop in and enjoy the fun!
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