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How do fish-cleaning shrimp avoid becoming meals? They do a little dance

Being a cleaner shrimp is a risky business—especially when some of your “clients” enjoy crunching on crustaceans. But a new study shows the shrimp, which eat parasites and dead skin off of fish, eels, and turtles, keep themselves safe by following two simple rules, The New York Times reports: Be picky, and when in doubt, do a dance. After observing cleaner shrimp in the Red Sea, researchers noticed shrimp were less likely to clean larger fish than smaller ones. When shrimp did choose to accept a giant client, they often began the interaction by bending their elegant white front legs and waving them back and forth, the team reports this week in Biology Letters—a signal the researchers interpreted to mean something like, “Hello large fish, I am here to clean you!”

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