One of the first things we are taught when taking the Open Water certification is to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles, kill nothing but time”, essentially to have a passive interaction with the marine life we encounter. But what does one do when the marine life WANTS to interact with the divers?
This happened to us recently on a dive at West End, on the North Side of Utila; for at least 20 minutes we were “stalked” by a Whitefin Sharksucker, who was actively trying to attach itself to us or our tanks. As you can see from the photos below, this was a very large specimen indeed.
Sharksuckers, also called Remoras, have distinctive first dorsal fins that take the form of a modified oval, sucker-like organ with slat-like structures that open and close to create suction and take a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals. By sliding backward, the remora can increase the suction, or it can release itself by swimming forward. They can attach to other organisms like sharks, rays, large
fish, turtles, even small boats and yes, sometimes even divers! They swim well on their own, with a sinuous, or curved, motion.
Do you know what to do if one ends up attaching to you while diving? Though its grip may be firm (and might leave you with a hickey!), it is harmless and can be detached easily if pushed forward.
Check out the video below to see our interaction with it!