Sometimes called a brown remora, a shark pilot or a shark sucker, the common remora is widely distributed throughout the world’s tropical and sub-tropical oceans. The word “remora” comes from the Latin word meaning “delay” or “hindrance”, and refers to
the extra drag that host species experience as a result of the remora being attached to them. Common remoras are usually associated with shark species, but can attach themselves to large fish, sea turtles, manta rays and even ships. They feed on the host’s parasites, and grow up to 62 centimetres in length. There are unconfirmed reports of a common remora reaching 86 centimetres. They are dark brown or grey in colour, and have a characteristic suction disc on the top of their head.
Also called the whale sucker or Indian suckerfish, the whale remora is a pelagic species with a worldwide presence in tropical and sub-tropical waters. It is thought to be common yet is rarely seen due to the fact that it attaches itself exclusively to whales and dolphins, via an adhesive
disc on the top of its head. They can detach from their host at will, and feed on cetacean faeces and vomit. It is uncertain whether they are a nuisance to their host, or if they help by sloughing off parasites and dead skin. Whale remoras can swim well on their own, and can be found at depths of up to 100 metres. They average around 40 centimetres, but the largest on record was 76 centimetres in length. They are dark blue or slate grey in colour, with white edges to their fins.
Other Remora found on the reef
Shark Remora – Echeneis naucrates