Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Deep Sea Love

I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite animals: the shrimp goby. These pretty little fish lead lives of enviable indolence. As their name suggests, they live with shrimp (often, a pair). The shrimp build and maintain a burrow, which the goby and shrimp live in together. Each shrimp works hard, shoveling sand out of the front entrance like a miniature bulldozer. As soon as it’s delivered the rubble to a suitable distance, it shoots back into the burrow.
These animals are dependent on each other. Remove the fish, and the shrimp stops burrowing; the shrimp forage while burrowing, so without a fish, they grow more slowly, too. The shrimp need their guard goby. And the guard goby needs its shrimp: deny the goby shelter in a burrow, and it will promptly be killed by predators (yes, someone did the experiment). The shrimp keep the goby clean, too: they groom it.

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