An example of this type of mutualism is the relationship between the Atlantic horse mackerel and the Portuguese man-of-war. (The Portuguese man-of-war itself is actually an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together!)
The mackerel lives between the tentacles of the Portuguese man-of-war. The sting from a man-of-war can be deadly, but the horse mackerel's immune system protects it from the venom of the man-of-war. If a larger fish -- attracted by the mackerel's brights colors and small size -- tries to grab the mackerel, the man-of-war will sting the larger fish and paralyze or kill it for its own food.
For my poem "Little Mack Attack," I imagined how the little mackerel ("Little Mack") -- safe among the tentacles of the man-of-war -- might become quite bold and saucy.
|illustration copyright Shennen Bersani|
text copyright Scotti Cohn
Little Mack Attack
by Scotti Cohn
Looking for lunch, my fine-finned foe?
Perhaps a mackerel snack "to go"?
It's true that you're a larger fish,
but you will never get your wish.
You think that you're the big kahuna,
but you are just a bluefin tuna.
You'll have to hunt me where I dwell:
here at the Man-of-War Hotel.
To read more about the Portuguese man-of-war, click HERE. Read a brief article about the horse mackerel's immunity to the man-of-war's venom HERE.