The world’s largest fish whale sharks are dealing with back pain – in the form of fish that try to get their pups to run whenever they try to take a dump. The cloaca-riding remora is the culprit team, and the behavior of the whale sharks shows that they do not enjoy it, the relationship between these two very different fish remains largely positive. If you are not already aware, whale sharks are absolutely huge. Despite weighing up to 20.6 tons (18.7 metric tons) and extending up to 12 meters (40 feet), they carry small shrimp, fish, and plankton around the ocean with tiny teeth (they also have teeth in their eyes).
Although whale sharks are not rough and tough predators, roaming around with them still provides some protection for Remora, as future predators are hampered by their enormous size. So, a good deal for Remoras, but what does the whale shark get out of it? Remora is famously a good cleaner, using a sucker over their head to grab the bodies of the megaphones that they have. Combined with devotion, they rid parasitic large animals, helping their hosts stay healthy as well as scooping up some leftover scraps for them.
They will also feed on whale shark pots, where the lines become a bit blurry for Remora. In a recent tweet, Dr. Simon Pierce, a whale shark researcher and chief scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, highlighted on Twitter a less desirable remorseful practice of whale shark defecation.
According to Pierce, given half the chance, Remora would “first head to the shark’s cloaca at the first sign of a shirt.” “I think it’s uncomfortable,” he wrote. To deal with toilet lookers, whale sharks in Mexico have been seen thrashing powerful tails to scare Remora as they let out a burst. The shark then calls Pierce “poopnado” and quickly zooms in and releases him before returning to feed, again remoras.
While this may sound deadly, butt reading is certainly not heard in deep blue. Marine cucumber colonies are known to be occupied by pearlfish that apparently see the sphincter as a portal to major real estate. It’s hard to complain against an animal like having a butthole, but the interiors of these jelly animals are also used as nests for small fish. So, relax the next time your stomach hurts. As far as toilet worries go, things can get worse.