One of the most basic lessons of life is that usually cooperation is better than conflict. This same principle applies under the sea and is evidenced by ‘symbiotic relationships’ that have developed among various organisms in marine ecosystems. Symbiosis is a system that has been in place on Earth among various species for millennia. Through the process of evolution some underwater inhabitants have figured out that they can increase their chances of survival in a hazardous fish-eat-fish world if they collaborate with others.

Symbiosis is a scientific concept that describes a close, long-term interaction between two different species where some form of benefit is gained by at least one of the partners. There are three main types of such relationships:

Mutualism—describes a relationship between both partners benefit from the interaction.

Commensalism—a relationship in which one partner benefits while the other is unaffected.

Parasitism—a negative relationship where one partner benefits at the expense of the other.

This month we’re going to check out a few of the most popular examples of marine life exhibiting different types of symbiotic relationships in the ocean.