Teenager learns how to get SHRIMP to clean his teeth
These fascinating creatures spend their lives diving inside the mouths of fish to remove the parasites that lurk there. Russell Laman imitated the behaviour of the surrounding fish swarm to entice the cleaner shrimp into his mouth whilst snorkelling with his father Tim Laman in Bali, Indonesia
Russell Laman, from Lexington, Massachusetts, said: ‘It felt like tiny little dentists picking away at my teeth and scuttling around my mouth, it tickled a little but not too badly.
‘I had watched fish getting cleaned at cleaning stations before and decided to try it out myself.
‘I thought it would be really cool to experience shrimp in my mouth first hand.
Father and son discovered the fish 'cleaning station' where the shrimp wait for customers, in a beautiful outcrop of sponges growing from some rocks.
The area was loaded with cleaner shrimp and surrounded by hoards of fish.
Russell who has been diving with his father for seven years is unfazed by the dangers of holding his mouth open underwater.
He learnt how to get the shrimp out of his mouth when he needs to breathe, by imitating the behaviour of the fish.
Russell said: ‘I observed that the shrimp are always keeping an eye on the mouth of the fish and as soon as it starts to close they shoot out.
The behaviour of species like the White-banded Cleaner Shrimp is well known to hard-core biologists and divers but capturing the process on a human is very rare.
Tim said: ‘It really is pretty amazing that these little shrimp immediately recognize a human mouth as analogous to a fish mouth and go in looking for bits of food.
‘It takes a relaxed diver to take out his regulator at 23 metres deep and present your mouth wide open to some shrimp.
‘You have to hold your breath for I'd say at least 30 seconds to have a reasonable chance, and Russell calmly held his breath for over 40 seconds.
‘It is pretty unusual for a kid of Russell's age to be able to do it.’