There's a good reason why the tiger snapping shrimp and yellow shrimpgoby are found in the Cooperating exhibit of Surviving Through Adaptation: In the Aquarium and in their natural habitats, teamwork is the name of the game for these two species.
The relationship between the tiger snapping shrimp and the yellow shrimpgoby is an example of symbiosis, which is a long-term interaction between two different organisms that live in close proximity to one another. There are three types of symbiosis: parasitism, commensalism and mutualism. In parasitism and commensalism, only one organism benefits by living in or on the other organism, known as the host. In parasitism, the host species is harmed by the interaction; in commensalism, there's no disadvantage to the host species.
In the case of the tiger snapping shrimp and the yellow shrimpgoby, their relationship falls into the mutualism category, which means that both animals benefit from the interaction. Here's how it works: The tiger snapping shrimp has poor eyesight but exceptional excavating skills, and the yellow shrimpgoby—like many other species of goby—likes to live in burrows, which provide protection from predators for this bottom-dwelling fish. The shrimp digs a burrow for it and the goby to dwell in; in exchange, the goby will stand guard at the top of the borrow, protecting the shrimp from potential predators. By keeping its long antennae on the goby's body, the shrimp is able to tell when the goby reacts to an incoming threat.
"The shrimp and goby move around their Aquarium habitat quite a bit," Curator of Blue Wonders Jay Bradley explained. "but they're typically found together. If you see the goby resting on a rock and you look behind it, you'll usually find the shrimp."
In their natural habitats—shallow coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean—you'll almost never see one of these animals without the other, although according to Jay, there are several different species of shrimp and goby that will interchangeably engage in this symbiotic relationship.
A Closer Look
The relationship between the tiger snapping shrimp and the yellow shrimpgoby is fascinating, but these animals are interesting in their own right as well. Let's take a closer look!