Even though the Remora has been classified as a common perciform fish belonging to the family Echeneidae, it definitely features a few unique traits that sets it aside as a somewhat more special family of ray-finned fish. Generally short in length, they are mostly known for their modified dorsal fins that have evolved into unique, sucker-like organs to assist with swimming and allow the fish to attach to a larger host. Remoras, also known as suckerfish, are predominantly tropical fish that can attach to many large species of fish and sea creatures, including turtles, sharks, and manta rays.
Suckerfish and Their Unique Dorsal “Fins”
The Remora and its unique physical characteristics have given rise to myths and legends throughout the ages, while also fascinating modern scientists. Their main distinguishing traits are their large, disc-shaped sucker-like organs that allow them to attach to sharks, sea turtles, and other large ocean-dwelling animals. Aside from benefiting from added protection and refreshing currents of water generated by the host’s movement, remoras can also use their unique abilities to pick up stray leftovers, and in some cases even form a symbiotic relationship with the host – moving around on its body to remove parasites and loose skin.
Remoras in Their Natural Habitat
Most species of remoras are not necessarily tied to a certain specific area. They are mainly tropical fish found in the mid-Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. However, they are also open-ocean dwellers that can constantly be spotted covering long distances while being attached to large fish and sea creatures that migrate to temperate regions. Dugongs, manta rays, and even whales can be seen carrying around stray suckerfish from time to time. They are quite tiny and even remoras measuring less than 3 cm often have fully developed their discs to attach to larger hosts. Remoras are usually found scavenging for leftovers while attached to a host’s mouth.
Remora Physiology and Energy Consumption
Studies conducted to examine the physiology of suckerfish have revealed a considerable amount of vital information about the way remoras, as well as other fish, use two different types of ventilation in order to save energy. While using ram ventilation at higher speeds to utilize the force of upcoming water, they are also able to use active ventilation quite efficiently at slower speeds. This process can be complicated and difficult to follow when it comes to most species of fish. Due to remoras’ ability to attach to other fish and remain stationary relative to their movement, they have allowed scientists to calculate the extra energy requirements needed for active ventilation – about 3-5% of the amount used up during ram ventilation. The Remora is seen by many scientists as an evolutionary curiosity that continues to persist as one of the open ocean’s most enchanting little parasites.