Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the aquarium
Not a creature was stirring, not even a…
Hey, do you really expect me to rhyme with “aquarium”?!
Well, I might not be able to do that, but during this season of giving, I can tell you about ways various marine animals give and help each other out in “symbiotic relationships,” which are characterized by mutual dependence where two or more different organisms help each other, so to speak. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
The most “famous” symbiotic relationship you might see at the Vancouver Aquarium is the relationship between the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) and the bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). Forever immortalized by that little Disney film Finding Nemo (you may have heard of it), this mutually beneficial relationship assures protection for the clown anenomefish when it snuggles into the bubble-tip anemone’s stinging tentacles (the fish, however, is protected from this sting). At the same time, the bubble-tip anemone also gets protection, as well as a cleaning service from the clown anemonefish, which will remove parasites.
Look around and you’ll see more examples.
Patti Beer, a senior marine biologist at the Aquarium, says that green surf anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) house a symbiotic algae that lives in their gut. The algae has premium real estate by living inside the green surf anemone, where it is protected from snails and other animals. Meanwhile, the green surf anemone gets extra nourishment from the algae. Voila – a match made in heaven!
While you’re here for a visit, make sure to say a hearty “ho, ho, ho” to Scuba Claus, who will be diving into the Strait of Georgia exhibit on December 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 and 24 at 12:30 p.m.
From all of us to you – have a merry fishmas and a happy new year!
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience, Vancouver Aquarium