Oceanic whitetip sharks and pilot fish
An oceanic whitetip and its posse of pilot fish are one of the open ocean’s most iconic sights. The shark’s giant size (up to 4 metres/13 feet long) and large, paddle-like pectoral fins provide a perfect shelter for its smaller, striped companions, who return the favor by cleaning away parasites — even from inside the shark’s mouth! While pilot fish sometimes follow other large pelagics, and even ships, the oceanic whitetip remains their favorite BFF.
The underwater world’s answer to Romeo and Juliet, French angelfish are almost always found in pairs and are one of the few creatures on earth to enjoy lifelong, monogamous relationships. They’ve even been observed swimming to the surface and releasing their eggs and sperm together, fiercely chasing away anyone else who gets too close. You’ll spot them along coral reefs in the Western Atlantic, where they often approach divers with curiosity.
These sea-dwelling socialites aren’t content with just one or two good friends. Instead, try billions. With some North Atlantic mega-schools spanning nearly five square kilometres/3.1 square miles, herring form one of the animal kingdom’s biggest groupings. Reacting quickly to avoid danger, the schooling fish move away to create a familiar ring-shape, known as a vacuole. Herring are also a bit clingy; as obligate schoolers, they become agitated and can even die if separated from their fellow buddies.
Sea anemones and clownfish
Rarely is an anemonefish (aka clownfish) found far from its namesake, and with good reason. The little fish, made famous by a certain Disney movie, is immune to the sea anemone’s toxic tentacles, which instead provide a safe place to live and the occasional scrap of food. Nemo’s job in this partnership is to help ward off predators and keep the home tidy. Anemones are a little fickle though; they’ve also been spotted out and about with critters like the pom-pom crab.
Of course, we couldn’t write an article about underwater buddies without including… ourselves! Unlike our other featured creatures above, scuba divers can be found all over the world, come in all shapes and sizes, and display all sorts of behaviors. From Swimmers and Nature Guides, to Captain Oblivious and Castaways, learn more about the types of dive buddies you might encounter on your next dive trip.
Want to get up close and friendly with the big blue? Grab your own dive buddy and start planning your next trip today!