It is a fish eat fish world under the sea. Where the herbivores eat the foliage, small predators eat the grazers, the large predators eat the small ones, and the large ones end up on a plate with garnish, it’s the circle of life.
We’ve all seen this on various nature shows and videos to the extent that you would think that there is nothing but ongoing carnage under the surface. Sadly, most of these videos are staged in an aquarium with foregone conclusions. The fact is, to witness a predator/prey interaction in the wild is a rarity. With a couple of thousand dives under my weight belt, I recall two.
We were astonished when our frequent guest and up and coming underwater photographer Kaelin Sassenberg (center left with his fan club) mentioned, “I got this video of an eel eating a shrimp”. To say the least, it’s a tough crowd here at West End Divers when it comes to underwater photography. Professional photographers, authors, and avid amateurs frequent the place. Yet this video caused a bit of a stir.
The Banded Coral Shrimp is a nocturnal cleaner shrimp usually hanging out in small crevasses and overhangs during the day. It lives in a symbiotic relationship with other fishes by cleaning parasites off of them for its food. Typically a fish will hover very near the shrimp, and the shrimp will hop aboard, picking the parasites off with its claws and eating them. In exchange the fish getting cleaned does not harm the shrimp, even though it looks like it tastes of peppermint.
The Goldentail Moray, a small nocturnal predator about 16″ in length gets its sustenance from small crustaceans and mollusks during its nighttime foraging. It is rarely seen out and about in the daylight.
There’s the strangeness of it; two symbiotic nocturnal creatures out during the day in a fight to the death, battle royal.
Many thanks to Kaelin for letting us share this amazing video.
Video by permission of Kaelin Sassenberg
Images courtesy of Caribbean Reef Life