Whale and barnacles relationship problems

Barnacles, Barnacles, Barnacles

whale and barnacles relationship problems

WHALE Barnacles can be specific to species. The Blue Whale barnacles and the barnacles that live on the Sperm Whale are different. The Humpback Whale. Contact Author. Parasites are a common problem among cetaceans. Barnacles and whales tend to have more of a symbiotic relationship. The barnacle-whale relationship is generally considered to be obligate . Mitch, this article DID say that too many barnacles can be a problem.

The juveniles -- tiny creatures resembling shrimp -- secrete cement that hardens into the hard, calcareous plates that surround them throughout their entire lives. As the cement plates meld together, the whale's skin is pulled into the spaces between the plates, permanently fusing the barnacles to the whale.

Facts About Whale Parasites | Owlcation

A Whale of a Ride For the entirety of the barnacles' lives they'll exist as diminutive hitchhikers on the backs and bellies of whales. They derive two basic benefits from this commensalistic relationship. As filter feeders, they depend on the availability of plankton, which they filter into their bodies through feather-like appendages extended through holes in their shells. When the whales swim into plankton-rich waters to feed, so do the barnacles.

They are consistently carried from feeding to feeding. Protection from predators is another benefit. Barnacles attached to stationary objects often fall prey to fish, sea worms, starfish and snails. Stable isotopic analyses of carbon and sulfur indicated the chemoautotrophic nature of A.

whale and barnacles relationship problems

Molecular phylogenetic analyses of the host mussels showed that A. Whale falls and other modern biogenic reducing environments may act as refugia for primal chemoautotrophic symbioses between eukaryotes and prokaryotes since the extinction of ancient large marine vertebrates.

  • How Do Barnacles Attach to Whales?
  • Symbiotic Sea Life
  • Whale barnacle

Introduction Deep-sea bathymodiolin mussels Bivalvia: These mussels rely primarily on their symbionts for nutrition, although some may also be facultative filter feeders [14] — [17]. Symbiont-harboring deep-sea mussels primarily subfamily Bathymodiolinae are hypothesized to have derived from asymbiotic shallow-water relatives by way of sunken wood falls, which were proposed to act as evolutionary stepping-stones for the introduction of chemoautotrophy-dependent invertebrates into vent and seep environments based on the results of molecular phylogenetic analyses of mytilid mussels [18].

In contrast, the fossil records of mytilid bivalves at seeps from the Jurassic Ma and the oldest occurrence of Bathymodiolus species at seep sites from the upper middle Eocene between 37 and 47 Ma are earlier than the evolution of the larger whales [20].

The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a Whale's Skin

As such, whale falls may have presented new niches for taxa that were already adapted to ephemeral reducing environments rather than an evolutionary stepping-stone toward vents and seeps [22]. The evolution of symbiont-harboring mussels is unclear because molecular and fossil results are inconsistent.

whale and barnacles relationship problems

Integrated intracellular symbiosis probably originated from an extracellular association between organisms [23][24]. It causes scaring to the whales skin that take years to heal if it heals at all. They are considered an amphipod crustacean. Whale lice have flat bodies with hooks at the tip of their legs.


Many times these parasites can be found hidden within folds in the skin, wounds, and among barnacles, another type of parasite. There are several species of whale lice. Cyamus scammoni is considered the largest and most common to be found on a whale. They differ from other species of whale lice because they have curly gills on their underside, whereas the other species have straight gills.

whale and barnacles relationship problems

They feed off of the surface of a whale with a diet of flaking skin typically around wounds and barnacles. These parasites seem to be more helpful than other parasites because they clear away dead skin.

Whale Barnacles (Coronulidae)

Whale lice spend their entire life cycle on the body of whales. They can be transferred from whale to whale by touch, but they never free float or swim through the water to their next host.

Female whale louse are generally only a half an inch, but male louse can grow to over an inch long. Another interesting fact about whale lice is that young whale lice grow inside a pouch-like structure under a female whale louse until they are ready to crawl out on their own.

Lung Worms are a type of round worm that affects the lungs of marine mammals. Lung worms can cause several complications including pneumonia. Heavy infestations can cause blockage to the airways along with inflammation that could create abscesses and eventually death if untreated.

Lung worms are typically less than seven centimeters long and are white with a thread-like appearance.

Facts About Whale Parasites

These worms can even survive in the lung of a dead whale. They are much smaller than those in a live host.

whale and barnacles relationship problems

Infestations are generally causes by consuming fish or squid that are already infected. Most whales in captivity are fed frozen fish to aid in prevention of lung worms.