Peek a Goby :Gobies are ornamental fish popular in home aquariums. But these inch-long jeweled creatures are the unlikely heroes of coral reefs. Corals are threatened by seaweed that grow rapidly in tropical waters, thanks to overfishing and warming temperatures. They produce an oily substance that reacts chemically with the coral, bleaching it within a few days and decreasing coral’s photosynthetic ability by 80%.
Gobies to the Rescue: Within minutes of seaweed contact, or contact from only seaweed chemical extract, the coral releases its own chemical compound (not yet identified) that recruits gobies to trim the seaweed and dramatically reduce coral damage. In turn, the gobies become more toxic to their predators after consumption of this noxious alga and protect their home site. Mutualism for the win!
Reference and Podcast: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6108/804
Image: Maze dweller by Chhaya Werner http://goo.gl/DfzWi