When a small school of slender yellowtail kingfish need protection from predators in the ocean, they turn to an unlikely source. They swim inside a special “floating safe house” known to scientists as Versuriga anadyomene. This special jellyfish has an undulating bell that protects the small fish from larger specimens that cannot fit inside. Every once in a while, a circling trumpetfish tries to nab one of the baby kingfish, but it remains wary of the stingers of the jellyfish.
This method works for the babies because the upper part of the jellyfish doesn’t contain stingers. However, the eight large tentacles down below do have some stinging properties that stun the jellyfish’s prey. Even better, any leftover food the jellyfish doesn’t eat goes to the small yellowtail kingfish. As the babies grow older and larger, they finally move on with their own lives.
Scientists aren’t sure why or how this symbiotic relationship developed between the yellowtail kingfish and jellyfish, but other sea creatures use the stinging attributes to their advantage as well. Crabs, mollusks, brittle stars, sea spiders, and even turtles pal around with jellyfish for protection. Now scientists can add slender yellowtail kingfishes to the list. Just like the school of baby fish, these bears seek help from an unlikely sourceWhizzco