Sharks visit underwater spas for dead skin removal

Sharks are visiting underwater `spas` where they undergo cleansing to get rid of unwanted parasites.

Updated: Mar 24, 2011, 00:20 AM IST

London: Sharks are visiting underwater `spas` where they undergo cleansing to get rid of unwanted parasites.Researchers have observed Thresher sharks swimming into areas populated by cleaner fish, which eat the unpleasant things attached to their bodies.
As the fearsome predator calmly swims around, the cleaner fish also remove dead skin and nasty creatures which have become attached to them.

This mirrors the latest pedicure treatment for us in which tiny garra rufa fish nibble away at hard skin on the soles of our feet, the Daily Mail reports.

Experts have seen the shark deliberately linger in these areas and make return trips to ensure they are spick and span.

The research is the first time such behaviour has been observed in sharks and shows a different side to the creature from what many would expect.

It has been likened to the creatures visiting a spa to get clean, or a car wash of sorts deep under the water`s surface.

The study was carried out in the Philippines where a team from Bangor University School of Ocean Sciences in Wales monitored undersea mountains - known as seamounts - for shark activity.

Lead researcher Simon Oliver from Bangor said that there was no doubt the sharks were going there for a good scrub. The fish that nibble skin and parasites off sharks are called a cleaner wrasse.

They are known to the larger fish by the markings on their side and the way they move.

Once a larger fish enters their `cleaning station` they assume a position or known way of moving whilst the wrasse tend to their bodies.

The relationship is mutually beneficial for the two as the shark is cleaned up whilst the wrasse gains an important source of food and temporary protection from other predators.

The research took place on a seamount off the northern tip of Cebu in the Philippines.