Diver Gets Weekly Teeth Cleanings From The Same Friendly Little Shrimp

“[It's] an excellent way to maintain your dental hygiene" 😁

One day, while diving along a reef on the coast of Hawaii, Patrick Seligman made an unlikely friend.

There, nestled safely in the nook of a rock was a colorful shrimp — a Pacific cleaner shrimp, to be specific. As Seligman approached, he caught her eye.

“They are pretty common on the reefs in Hawaii, but not all of them are willing to interact with humans,” Seligman told The Dodo.

This particular shrimp, however, was. And then some.


Cleaner shrimp are so named for their eagerness to nibble parasites and dead skin off of other animals who come to their undersea “cleaning stations.” In fact, the day Seligman first arrived, the shrimp had just finished up with a client: a visiting eel.

Lucky for Seligman, the shrimp evidently had a free slot in her schedule for him after that.

Patrick Seligman

Removing his breathing apparatus, Seligman opened his mouth — and the little shrimp swam right in.

Her target? His teeth.

Incredible as it was, this wouldn’t be a one-time thing.

Over the weeks and months that followed, whenever Seligman would go diving near that spot, he’d drop in for a cleaning from the same helpful little dental hygienist.

He’d sometimes even bring companions to have their teeth tidied up, too.

“We dove there about once or twice a week,” Seligman said. “It’s definitely fun to stop there for the teeth cleaning, especially with friends who had never seen it before.”

These regular visits lasted for about a year — throughout which Seligman’s teeth had never been healthier.

“I think frequent visits to your local cleaner shrimp are an excellent way to maintain your dental hygiene,” he said.

Sadly, though, it couldn’t last forever.

Patrick Seligman

During one dive, following a strong storm, Seligman visited his friend’s cleaning station only to find she had gone — likely having moved on to establish her cleaning practice elsewhere on the reef.

Though Seligman’s cleaning routine seems to have come to an end, his warm feelings toward the shrimp, wherever she may be, have not.

“[She] definitely feels like a familiar friend,” Seligman said. “And it’s also fun to take advantage of a naturally occurring symbiotic relationship.”