Okay. So just to put it out there. No, I am not making this up. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the incident in question has scarred me for life, but it has definitly made me think twice about watching my back…or my butt as it were…underwater.
Let’s back up a little bit. So my initial encounter with the bizzare creature giving you the stanky eye above occured a couple of months ago while diving off the aquamarine coast of Key Largo. Doing some work with the National Undersea Research Center, this was my first experience in warm, tropical, semi-coral filled waters and the array of life they contain. After a couple of action packed days of sciencing and surveys, I had become quite use to the terrain, until that fateful dive. My buddy and I had been scrubbing cages, when I was no longer comforted by the sound of her brush on the other side of the cage. Why had she stopped I wondered, so curiously, I investigated. Looking up…WTH is that! I had never seen anything like it and why would it not go away?Perhaps more importantly, does it have teeth? Both of us sat there dumbfounded and a little apprehensive until finally we had to surface. Even then, the damn thing kept dive bombing us throughout our entire ascent. What was it’s deal?
Anyways long story short, upon reaching the boat and describing our puzzling encounter, we were educated on the fishy creeper who had no comprehension of a “personal bubble.”
Short for: Remora remora
Rapper name: Sharksucker
Specs: 30-90 cm long, Modified Grill in the form of a flattened dorsal fin
Superpower: Uses sucking organ on dorsal side for hitch-hiking rides with their homies like whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, boats, divers, etc. This is a type of Commensalism known as Phoresy, where you are only in it to bum a ride. Some Remoras may actually be useful, cleaning bacteria and parasites as they go.
Once I knew what it was, it all made sense. I had seen them previously, however, only in their attached state. Cool.
Fast forward to just last month, my 21st birthday to be exact. (Luck for you I still remember this part of the day). Now residing in Fiji, the north side of the big island, out for a birthday dive with my mates and the same dive buddy. Just swimming along minding my own business, when she stops me mid kick and just points. I look. Nothing. Keep swimming. Again she stops me, and now I am like okay what? Shark? (We had already seen a couple that dive). Turn around. Nothing. Now she is busting up, snapping pictures of the invisible thing we were supposedly both looking at. I keep looking…that’s it she must be Narc’ed (slang for Nitrogen Narcosis, a condition of imaired judgement or state of delusion while scuba diving). A good 5 minutes this debauchery continues, Until finally she grabs me and shows me the camera. Oh…well…Who has kissed your butt recently?