Whale and barnacles relationship tips

The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a Whale's Skin | Animals - employment-agency.info

whale and barnacles relationship tips

Barnacles live on the surface of the whale and eat food that passes around " The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a. Barnacles are arthropods contained in the class Crustacea along with lobsters, crabs and shrimp. They're believed to be one of the oldest. Commensalism: whales and barnacles. No playable sources found. Free Video Tips and Webinars at SchoolTube University. Click Here!.

There are a few parasites that can cause serious health issues and eventually death. Some of these include nematodes round wormstrematodes flukesdignenea tapewormsand acanthocephala thorny-head parasites. Barnacles Barnacles are considered the most common external parasite to plague whales. What many people don't realize is that barnacles aren't actually parasites at all.

They are considered crustaceans. Barnacles and whales tend to have more of a symbiotic relationship. There are 1, species of barnacles. However, only a small fraction of these species actually attach to whales.

The sessile barnacle, or acorn barnacle, is the most common. This barnacle will drift through the water as a larva ultimately attaching itself to the whale and extend out feather-like filters to catch plankton. They choose to attach to baleen whales, such as gray whales, so the whales will take them through currents typically filled with plankton.

Typically barnacles don't cause harm to the whale unless there is a high concentration around the whale's blowhole, preventing it from breathing. The most common problem with barnacles is when a barnacle dies and falls off or is scraped off.

Facts About Whale Parasites

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.

whale and barnacles relationship tips

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.

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 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.

whale and barnacles relationship tips

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.


These worms can even survive in the lung of a dead whale. They are much smaller than those in a live host. There are more than 1, species of barnacles inhabiting brackish and saltwater environments worldwide. Although some barnacles are parasites, most are filter feeders. Filter-feeding barnacles are the type that engage in symbiotic relationships with whales. In biological terms, symbiosis is broadly defined as a close, extended relationship between two or more members of different species that benefits at least one member.

There are three types of symbiosis. In mutualism, both species benefit from the relationship. In parasitism, only one species benefits from the relationship and causes significant harm to the other.

Commensalism, in which only one species benefits without causing significant harm to the other, is the type of symbiosis between barnacles and whales.

whale and barnacles relationship tips

Cementing the Relationship Barnacles begin their lives as free-swimming larvae, progressing through six larval stages. When they reach the last, or cyprid, stage, they settle onto the skin of a whale, where they complete their metamorphosis into juvenile barnacles.

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. 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.