While a scuba diver was swimming off the coast of Hurghada, Egypt, a remora fish mistook him for a shark and tried to latch onto him in the water.
In a recently released video of the encounter, the diver is alerted to the fish’s presence by the person rolling the camera. The diver looks down, surprised, as the remora swims around him and pecks gently at his diving suit, trying to find a good spot to attach itself to the diver’s body.
The remora kept up with the diver as he swam through the coral reef, persistently trying to find a place on the diver’s body to latch on using the suction cup it has on its head.
Enric Sala, a marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, says he has seen this happen a few times before.
“I have been taken for a large fish myself!” Sala says. “I got a good close-up of one of these confused remoras. It was at the Southern Line Islands in 2009.”
The remora fish is also referred to as a suckerfish, and it is usually between one and three feet long. The large, flat suction cup on the top of its head allows it to attach to a fish that is larger than its own body and ride along with it, and occasionally subjects it to ridicule.
When a bigger fish attacks and eats prey, the remora will detach itself and feast on the remains once its host is done. The remora will sometimes clean its host’s body and mouth of parasites, then attach itself once again to its host. It can also cause irritation along its host’s body, so the relationship isn’t always a symbiotic one.