Pomacantus imperator (emperor angelfish) cleaning sea turtle - © Dr. Michael White

Novel observation of sea turtle cleaning

Pomacantus imperator (emperor angelfish) cleaning sea turtle - © Dr. Michael White

Emperor cleaning Cm link

The published article can be freely accessed here:

White M. (2013): The first study of sea turtles at Rarotonga, Southern Cook Islands
Testudo 7: 12-29
Permalink: http://library.seaturtle.org/7257

This entry was posted in Species on by .

About Michael White

Marine Zoologist specialising in endangered species and remote atoll research. I use modern science and Ethnozoology to provide culturally meaningful conservation projects, with a special focus on the sustainable use of natural resources and food sovereignty. "Tread gently on the Earth"

10 thoughts on “Novel observation of sea turtle cleaning

    1. Michael White Post author

      Thanks Krishnan, it was an experiment of a sort. Janos and I had been discussing why our website didn’t have thousands of hits and it seemed to come down to images. Sort of avoid words. So I uploaded that photo to see if anything different happened ~ which it did, thank you.

      The photo is the first known report of an Emperor Angelfish cleaning something ~ they are not known as cleaner species. During my research I saw them clean both green and hawksbill turtles. I published that in my 2013 Rarotonga paper. I deliberately did not caption it. Mike 🙂

        1. Michael White Post author

          Pomachanthus imperator, but in that large group of angelfishes. They also make a loud internal drumming sound when threatened ~ either air or water pressure. I only heard it on one occasion ~ several times ~ as I moved to give it a clear exit.

    1. Michael White Post author

      Thank you again Krishnan.

      Just for info Janos asked if we could make some changes ~ so it has a new title, a featured image, the banner image is flipped, but when you download the image you get the orginal one (you already have it). I’ve also put a link to the paper. Mike 🙂

  1. Krishnan Srinivasan

    Quite interesting. In the Hindu scriptures, turtles have a special place. Of the ten stages (Avatars) in the evolution of life , it comes after Matsya (fish) Avatar. Called Koorma Avatar, it presages transition to land (terrestrialization) as Varaha (pig) avatar. Life itself is believed to have been churned out of the Milky Ocean as Amrutam (Amrit in Hindi language ) with the Himalaya as the churner anchored upon Koorma as the foothold. Koorma is is the most revered giver of life, Lord Mahavishnu, controller of life on Earth. The paradox is, live turtle is never allowed inside a flourishing home, for, it’s entry fore says doom or a legal battle. But the sculpture or bronze mould is kept in prayer as the Jewel Box of Kubera, controller of wealth. There are stories galore on turtles, having intricate ramifications in deep rooted customs and rituals. Hinduism forbids eating of turtle meat or eggs. Turtle shells were used as shields in the historic wars by the infantry too.

  2. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

    Interesting observations Mike, I will now find time to read the paper. I see your point of condensing information into images and links on our website. Perhaps a brief summary followed by the link will induce people to read. And we may as well start off with our publications Page.

    Interesting Krishnan. I am learning from you. What has also always intrigued me down here is that some people like to keep live land turtles in their backyards. They say it brings luck, especially of the monetary type. But it appears the belief is different in India. I wonder where the belief came from down here?

    1. Michael White Post author

      Thanks for all Ven. In Japan many people had the polished carapace of a sea turtle in their homes. Hoping for longevity, given the great ages that turtles can reach (150-200 years). In Britain we refer to this as Sympathetic Magick, but would be similar to Sun Dance or Rain Dance, or Praying for successful crops. The long long history of humankind ~such wonders 🙂 Mike

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