Shark and Remora: An Unique Relationship

The shark and remora relationship is an interesting symbiosis example of the animal kingdom.

Remoras are small filter-feeding fish one and two feet long that attach themselves to a shark’s skin with the help of its suction cup that is situated over its head and dorsal fin portion.

In this unique relationship. remoras are benefited from eating the leftovers of the shark’s prey and external parasites of shark skin. Whereas this makes the shark free of skin and mouth parasites.

The remora, however, has developed a symbiotic relationship with these apex predators.

In return for providing protection from other predators, the remora receives sustenance from the shark.

Shark and Remora

What is Remora Fish

Remora Fish
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Remoras, also known as suckerfish, are a type of fish that has evolved to attach itself to larger fish, such as sharks.

They have evolutionary specialized suction cup features on the head region that allow them to attach.

The remora’s suction disk is made up of stiff, pliable membranes that can be raised and lowered to produce suction.

By sliding backward, the remora can lift the suction, or it can release it by releasing itself by moving forwards. The fish moves almost directly, sinuously, or curvedly.

This allows them to feed off of the scraps leftover from the bigger fish’s meals. Remoras have been known to travel for great distances attached to their host fish.

They have been known to attach themselves to other animals for transportation, feeding, and protection.

What Type of Fish is Remora?

The remora, also called a suckerfish, belongs to a family (Echeneidae) of ray-finned fish in the order Carangiformes.

Remoras are not dangerous to their hosts and often hitch a ride for free transportation and food.

The remora also uses its tail to twitch, or vibrate, so that the shark can sense its presence and avoid being attacked.

Diet of Remora Fish

Remora fish are not only known for their sucker-like appendages cling to larger fish and feed on the parasites and dead skin that accumulate on their hosts.

These fish feed mainly on the parasites that infest their host fish. Remoras have also been known to scavenge and eat dead or decaying flesh.

Why Do Remoras Attach Themselves to Sharks?

Remora fish have been known to attach themselves to sharks for centuries.

It was once believed that the remora fish were parasites, but biologists now know that they are actually hitchhikers.

So, why do remora fish stick to sharks and How do remoras benefit from sharks are given below,

1. Travel a Long Distance

Remoras are able to travel long distances and explore new areas because they are attached to larger animals like sharks.

2. Scrap Leftover Food

In addition, the remora can feed on scraps of food that fall from the host’s mouth, which allows them to survive in nutrient-poor environments.

3. Feed Shark Parasite

This attachment allows the remora to feed on parasites and dead skin that are living on or near the shark. So they benefit from riding on the shark’s back.

4. Protection from Predator

It also allows the remora to travel with the shark, which provides protection from predators.

They use the shark’s body as camouflage, making them less visible to predators.

While there are many predators that could potentially prey on a remora, sharks are the most common.

Some smaller fish, such as barracuda, can also be predators of remoras.

5. Stabilize Their Body

Remora use the shark’s body to stabilize themselves while they swim.

In the wild, remoras typically live for two to three years. They are not considered a threatened species.

How Do Sharks Benefit From Remoras?

Though sharks are apex predator, they take advantages from clinging remoras many ways. Here are few benefits,

1. Clear External Parasites

Sharks are one of the beneficiaries of this relationship, as remoras clean the sharks’ skin of parasites and dead tissue, improving the sharks’ overall health.

2. Clear Dead Skins

Additionally, the remora can act as a food scavenger, helping to clean up any dead or decaying flesh on the shark’s body.

This helps keep the shark healthy and free from infection.

3. Clean Shark Teeth

A small remora, a group of parasites known as hitchhikers, is found in the mouths of sharks of various sizes and eat shark teeth debris.

In return for temporary room and board, remoras keep sharks disease-free, smear parasitic substances on and skin, and as you can see, can spend morsels of food.

4. Body Stabilization

Remora can help to guide the shark in its movements, providing some stability in swimming.

This is important because it allows the shark to swim more efficiently and helps to keep them from getting tired as easily.

The Drawbacks of the Remora and Shark Relationship

When most people think of sharks, they think of ferocious predators that hunt down their prey with ease.

While this relationship may seem beneficial for the remora shark, there are actually several drawbacks to it.

-First and foremost, the remora shark is highly dependent on its larger counterparts for food. If the larger sharks disappear, so will the remora.

This makes them very vulnerable to extinction if something happens to their main food source.

-Secondly, the remora shark does not have any defenses of its own and relies on the larger sharks to protect it from predators.

The remora gets an easy meal and a safe place to live, while the host shark or ray gets help in hunting and scavenging for food.

-Thirdly, they can even attach themselves so tightly that they interfere with movement and cause discomfort or injury to the host.

-Remoras can also carry parasites that may harm their hosts.

What Type of Symbiotic Relationship is a Remora and a Shark?

A symbiotic relationship is a type of relationship where two different species of organism coexist and rely on one another to survive.

In many cases, the two organisms involved in the symbiotic relationship have a specific job that they each perform in order to make sure both organisms are able to thrive.

One of the most common types of symbiotic relationships is the relationship between a plant and an insect.

For example, many plants rely on insects to pollinate them in order to reproduce. In return, the plant provides food for the insect.

Another common type of symbiotic relationship is the relationship between a host and a parasite.

A host is an organism that harbors a parasite within its body, and a parasite is an organism that lives off of its host.

The parasite typically harms its host in some way, but it is also often necessary for the parasite’s survival.

But Remoras and whale sharks have a complex relationship, both sharing (mutualistic) and even cooperating socially (commensalism).

Commensalism Nature Between Them

In the animal kingdom, there are different types of relationships that can form between two different species.

One such relationship is called commensalism. This is a type of symbiotic relationship where one species benefits while the other species is unaffected.

Are remoras and sharks Commensalism? Yes, an example of commensalism in nature is the relationship between a shark and a remora.

Remoras are fish that have a sucker on their head that allows them to attach themselves to sharks, whales, and other large marine animals.

Remoras use this sucker to feed on parasites and debris that accumulate on their host’s body.

In return, the remora provides its host with transportation and helps to remove parasites from its skin.

The shark does not benefit from having a remora attached to it, but it is unaffected by the presence of the remora.

The remora can act as a cleaner fish, eating dead skin from the shark. This helps to keep the shark healthy and free of infection.

Mutualism Nature Between Them

Some scientist explains their relationship as a mutualistic relationship.

So are remoras mutualistic? Basically, this relationship has benefits for both the remora and the host.

The remora eats the bits of food that fall off the shark’s mouth and it also cleans the shark’s skin.

Whereas the shark benefits from the remora because it keeps its body clean and it gets an easy meal.

Why Does Shark Not Eat Remora?

There are a few reasons why sharks do not typically eat remora.

Some scientists believe that the remora’s ability to clean parasites off of sharks may actually benefit both species, so sharks have no incentive to eat them.

-Remora does not provide much nutrition for sharks.

-Another theory suggests that the remora’s movements are too erratic for a shark to effectively attack it.

Whatever the reason, it seems that remoras have found a way to safely coexist with their larger predators.

Read Related Article: Do Sharks Eat Pilot Fish?

Read Related Article: Do Sharks Eat Jellyfish?

Remora vs Pilot Fish

Pilot fish are small fish that live in schools near sharks.

Pilot fish has a special ability to sense when a shark is nearby. When they sense a shark, they swim very close to it and follow it around.

Pilot fish eat the scraps of food that fall from the shark’s mouth. They also clean the shark’s skin by eating the parasites that live on it.

In return, the shark provides protection for the pilot fish from other predators.


Are remoras parasites?

While remoras are often thought of as parasites, they are not technically parasites because they do not live off of their host.

Instead, they are commensal animals, meaning they benefit from the relationship while their host is unaffected.

Can remora be eaten?

Yes, remora can be eaten. In fact, they are a popular food in some parts of the world.

Is remora good to eat? People say that remora is a delicious fish that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Remora are typically fried or grilled and taste a bit like salmon. They are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Do sharks eat the remora fish?

The answer to this question is yes, a few species of shark do eat the remora fish. They have slowed down, even risked their lives, to detain remoras.

Sandbar and lemon sharks have been documented engaging in aggressive and cannibalistic behavior to remora.

Do remoras eat poop?

Remoras have been known to eat parasites and dead skin from their host animals, but it is unknown if they eat poop.

Some people believe that remoras eat poop because they have been seen eating fecal material from their host animals. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

Are remoras carnivores?

Recent studies have shown that remoras may not be scavengers after all, but instead may be carnivores that feed on the blood and tissues of their hosts.

One study found that when remoras were removed from sharks and placed in a tank with other fish, the remoras attacked and ate the other fish.

This suggests that remoras are not simply scavengers, but that they actively hunt and eat other fish.

Another study showed that when remoras were fed a diet of fish blood and tissues, they grew faster and had more energy than those that were fed a diet of shrimp.

Can you keep a remora fish?

Yes, you can keep a remora fish in your home aquarium. These fish are interesting to watch and are not difficult to care for.

Remoras can be kept with a wide variety of other fish and will eat most types of food that you offer them. They do best when kept in an aquarium with plenty of live rock so they can scavenge for food.

Do remoras swim upside down?

Remoras have been known to swim upside down, but it is not entirely clear why they do this. Some researchers believe that swimming upside down allows remoras to more easily access food on the underside of their host fish.

Others suggest that it helps them avoid predators by making them less visible. While there is no definitive answer, it is clear that remoras can swim both ways and that it likely serves some benefit for them.

Are remora attached with a boat?

They use their sucking disks to attach themselves and then use their fins to stabilize themselves.

While remora may hitch a ride on a boat, they are not actually attached to it.

Do remoras have teeth?

While it was once believed that remoras did not have teeth, recent research has shown that they do in fact have small pointed teeth. These teeth are used to grip onto their prey as they suck it into their mouths.

One of the main reasons why it has been difficult to determine whether or not remoras have teeth is because they do not use them for chewing food.

Instead, they use their suction-like mouth to attach themselves to other marine creatures and siphon off food from their prey.

Can remora fish hurt you?

While there is still much unknown about these fish and how they interact with humans, it seems that there is some potential for harm.

So far, however, there have not been any reports of serious injuries caused by remora fish.

Do whales eat remora fish?

Whales are known to eat a variety of different kinds of fish, but it’s not clear if they also eat remora fish.

Remora fish are known for attaching themselves to other larger fish, and it’s possible that whales could be one of their targets.

Final Words

These fish have been known to attach themselves to large marine animals, such as sharks, whales, and dolphins.

In doing so, they use their suction cup-like mouth to cling onto their hosts and feed off of the parasites and dead skin that accumulate on their bodies.

In addition, remoras can be used by sharks to detect prey or other predators in the area.

This beneficial relationship between remoras and sharks is an example of how evolution has resulted in creatures adapting to form mutually beneficial partnerships.

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