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These fish fancy a backdoor bungalow

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How This Fish Survives in a Sea Cucumber’s Bum

 

FN Rating: Fresh

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Sea cucumbers are not something you would want on a salad. They look like thick muscular tubes that live in the ocean and mostly filter feed. But their butts also are bed and breakfasts for a family of fish called ‘pearlfish”. Yep, guest junk in the trunk,  a trooper in the pooper, a sightseer in the rear, a stranger in the brown manger. Yong, the author, does a very good job of delivering the best bits of weird with the occasional wink at the crazy involved in this very weird relationship. He focuses on star pearlfish that are parasites, but some just hang around in the rear for a good nights sleep. Really we have nothing more to add.

Our favorite parts of this story

  • “a slender, eel-like fish swam out of the sea cucumber’s anus” – if we had a nickle for every time we heard that.
  • “14 pearlfish had evacuated the animal’s bum. . . Another one stayed inside”
  • “sea cucumbers breathe through their anuses”
  • “lung-like structure called the respiratory tree.”
  • “Some species just use the sea cucumbers as shelters. But the Encheliophis pearlfishes are full-blown parasites that devour their host’s gonads from within.”
  • “anal abodes”
  • “The mucus helps to lubricate them on their way into their hosts, but it also acts as a physical barrier against the toxic saponins.”


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