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New determination of prey and parasite species for Northern Indian Ocean blue whales


de Vos, A and Faux, CE and Marthick, J and Dickinson, J and Jarman, SN, New determination of prey and parasite species for Northern Indian Ocean blue whales, Frontiers in Marine Science, 5, (APR) Article 104. ISSN 2296-7745 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 de Vos, Faux, Marthick, Dickinson and Jarman. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3389/fmars.2018.00104


Blue whales are little studied, face significant anthropogenic threats and within the Northern Indian Ocean, have a restricted range, making them an archetype for conservation needs of megafauna around the world. We studied feeding behavior of blue whales using dietary DNA metabarcoding of fecal samples. While globally blue whale populations feed predominantly on Euphausiidae, 87% of prey DNA amplicons extracted from fecal samples from this population were sergestid shrimp, demonstrating that blue whales can locate and feed on dense swarms of other types of prey when they occur. Within the Indian Ocean sergestids are present within the top 300m, which correlates with the deep scattering layer observed by hydroacoustics. Studies suggest that this requirement to dive deeper in search of prey likely explains the prevalence of fluke up diving within this population of blue whales relative to other parts of the globe. Furthermore, this study revealed the presence of acanthocephalan endoparasites within the stomach and intestines of the Northern Indian Ocean blue whales. This represents the first record of Acanthocephala in blue whales in the Northern Indian Ocean and highlights the need for further studies on both the ecto- and endoparasitic flora and monitoring of health of these cetaceans for their management and conservation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:DNA metabarcoding, Sri Lanka, Northern Indian Ocean, feces, Sergestidae, Euphausiidae, acanthocephala, krill
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Marthick, J (Mr James Marthick)
UTAS Author:Dickinson, J (Professor Joanne Dickinson)
ID Code:125853
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2018-05-09
Last Modified:2019-09-18
Downloads:129 View Download Statistics

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