Newbie divers, pause a moment to observe the goby and shrimp when you are diving in a sandy environment, it can turn out to be a intriguing observation.
Partners,housemates ,or more accurately ,burrowmates.
These critters have a quaint relationship between them.Both in a , whats termed as a symbiotic coexistence, in layman terms it just means they basically are in a mutually agreeable partnership where both look after each other’s interets. Its fascinating to watch,this ongoing partnership in motion and intriguing as well ,especially to watch the shrimp in action doing its part to maintain the relationship.
If there is one thing that is very often overlooked it is the sight of both the goby fish and the shrimp actively playing their roles underwater, its a nonstop process during daylight hours , when predators lurk about ever ready to take advantage of a potentially deadly encounter for both the fish or the shrimp if they were to let their guard down .
For divers , most times won’t even give them a second thought as they swim right past them above because they are so common, typically , on sandy bottoms ,hundreds or more of these fishes can easily be spotted,on any given dive .
Actually, to better appreciate these critters, the diver need to understand the hows,wheres and whys of their behaviour and interaction with each other and when they do ,then observation of them in their environment will be enhanced.
Pause and smell the roses,as people would say in a garden.!
For the beginner diver,pause and take in the visuals.!
Whenever you are diving on sandy bottom,it is not hard to spot the goby sticking its head out from the burrow in the sand.
Next time remember to pause ,very quietly settle yourself down on the sandy bottom,choose a burrow with a goby and then with a bit of patience wait to see what will happen next.
Be very still and observe ,if the goby fish feels the coast is clear
it signals to the shrimp in the burrow and then the shrimp will continue its job of cleaning
house.Like a bull dozer,gravel that drops into the burrow will be forcefully pushed back out again and again,
Stick around few minutes and watch the cleaning by the shrimp,enchanting to watch,not only sand pebbles and gravel ,sometimes somehow the little bugger can manage to push something twice its size that has fallen into the burrow.
Do u know ,the shrimps are practically blind sensing their world with the antenae they have which it uses for comunication with the fish. linked to the tail of the goby fish,their world is limited to merely the immediate vicinity around their burrow which is like 1-2 sq meters.
If you have been observing the fish and shrimp,notice how on a high state of alert the fish is whenever the shrimp is doing its cleaning and pushing debris out of the burrow,body language of the fish,then try something,from your position just make a sudden move and see what happens.Whoosh,in a couple of split seconds,both the shrimp and the goby have disappeared into the burrow sensing a potential threat from you.!
When that has happened,norries, just pick a spot and then settle down very gently again on the sandy bottom, keeping a respectful distance so that you can see what happens next.Quaint to watch as the goby emerges 1st sticking its head out to see if the coast is clear,if it deems its safe ,no threat around,it gently taps the antennae of the shrimp wiggling its tail then takes up position again on high alert while the shrimp repeats or continues where it left off cleaning the burrow,only mode of communication between them is tail and antennae.
And for all of that work,shrimp gets fed with the droppings of the goby which in turn feeds on whatever stuff that drifts past with the current.
Wages of the shrimp for all that cleanup work,FISH CRAP.!
Occasionally you may come across a burrow with more than one shrimp,2 ,3 or 4 working in tandem to clean the burrow ,and 2 gobies standing guard.gets more interesting to watch ,nice thing about it is that the shrimps come in multi colour ,gobies also.