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Who's building the holes?

One thing that really fascinated me during our last dive trip to Oman was looking down fish burrows! As I was swimming over a sandy patch I saw quite a few sand gobies guarding their burrows, then all of a sudden I see this pistol shrimp come out and remove a bunch of sand from inside the burrow. Obviously, I stopped an watched the symbiotic relationship: the goby guards the home and protects the shrimp from predators while the shrimp builds and maintains the house. It is quite cool actually to see the little guy shovelling the sand out like a mini truckloader! I wish I could take one back to Norway to help me shovel all the snow from our front door!

I get very excited and decide to pay more attention to the sandy patches and less to the corally bits! Next I see a tunnel with what the scientist in me defined as “two fishies” (and a quick google search suggests are jawfish) that were taking turns in “vomiting” out sand from inside their tunnel. Basically these chaps build and maintain their burrows by stuffing their mouths with sand and spitting it out of the tunnel. So cute!

Last of these architects that we encountered was the Omani Jawfish or Stalix omanensis. His burrows are vertical tunnels and what is interesting is that they are fortified by rocks so if you look straight down into it it looks very much like a well. It is actually pretty cool to see!

Photo by Oman Aggressor

They are all very shy so as soon as you get close they rush back into their burrows!


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