Great barracuda being cleaned

Great barracudas give me the willies, more so than sharks or most anything else in the ocean. There’s something about their appearance and how they hang motionless in the water that I find unnerving.

A little way south of my usual snorkeling spot, there’s a concentration of these fish that always rattles me as I swim through. Most of the barracudas I see are two feet long or less, but there a few among them that are much bigger than that. When I run into them, I’m leery about pointing my camera at them in case that upsets them in any way, because they don’t look like fish that would take kindly to being upset.

On this day, I was swimming with a friend when we came upon this very large great barracuda, just hanging in the water. Turned out it was being cleaned. The little blue and yellow fish above the head of the barracuda is a cleaner wrasse. These little fish set up store in different areas and clean mucus, dead tissue and parasites off other fish, which make regular visits to take advantage of this service.

Many fish being cleaned have an aura of great contentment while it’s going on, and this barracuda also looked quite relaxed, to such an extent that I lost my trepidation about it and got a bit closer than I normally would.

The wrasse is probably around 3 inches in length which would mean this barracuda is probably around 4 feet long.

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