What are these? This is a term used to describe a characteristic behaviour of many species of fish and larger marine life like rays. All fish carry parasites and algae can grow over time. These can have a harmful effect if not removed so marine life regularly visit ‘cleaning stations’ to get this done.
They occur all over the world and it is a good chance to take photos and video of fish in action (doing something).
Down on the reef small fish called cleaner wrasse work alone or in small groups eating parasites and algae from the ‘host’. All types of fish and even fish schools visit ‘cleaning stations’ from time to time. This is a symbiotic relationship, where the ‘cleaners’ get a free meal and the host gets unwelcome attachments removed from their bodies. It’s a win win situation, plus the keen photographer has an opportunity to get up quite close whilst this is going on because the fish are somewhat distracted.
In many parts of the world this occurs with manta rays, although usually the cleaner fish are often species of butterfly fish not wrasse. The mantas hover over the cleaning station and can even be seen flinching when a fish nibbles them. It’s quite an amazing site and the Maldives is one of many places this can be witnessed.