Photo of Blue Shark and Yellowtail

Some years ago I was freediving around an open ocean kelp paddy with Mike Johnson. We were photographing a few blue sharks that we had attracted to the paddy with a small bucket of chum. Two small yellowtail jacks were flanking one of the blue sharks, swimming closely beside it and repeatedly brushing along he shark.

North Pacific Yellowtail brushing against blue shark, Seriola lalandi, Prionace glauca, San Diego, California

North Pacific Yellowtail brushing against blue shark.
Image ID: 01000
Species: North Pacific Yellowtail, Seriola lalandi, Prionace glauca
Location: San Diego, California, USA

I believe the yellowtail were bumping the shark in order to remove parasites against the rough skin of the shark. The shark seemed bothered by this but there was nothing the shark could do — the yellowtail are so much quicker and more agile that the blue shark had little hope of actually biting them or chasing them off. This behaviour persisted for about 10 minutes, at which point the blue shark probably became exasperated at the yellowtail that were pestering him and left. Open ocean about 10 miles offshore of San Diego.

Keywords: blue shark photo, yellowtail, kelp paddy, underwater photo, Prionace glauca.

About Phil Colla

I am a natural history photographer. I enjoy making compelling images in the ocean, on land, and in the air. I have maintained the Natural History Photography blog since 2005 and my searchable Natural History Photography Library since 1997. Here are some tear sheets and behind the scenes views. Thanks for looking!