Whale lice

From: Phil Clapham (phillip.clapham@noaa.gov)
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 09:47:45 EDT


Whale lice - which are known scientifically as cyamids - are a natural
feature of several kinds of whales, including humpbacks. They live in
very specific places, usually where there's not much water flow (so they
don't get washed off). Cyamids are about the size of an adult
fingernail. Cyamids probably eat plankton in the water around the
whale, but they also eat dead whale skin.

Since whale calves arent born with cyamids, they must pick them up from
their moms. Calves keep close contact with their mothers, so there's
plenty of opportunities for cyamids to leave the mother and start a new
colony on the kid!

> Jennifer Johann wrote:
> Why do the Humpback Whales get lice and how big is it?

The Society for Marine Mammalogy will be holding its 14th Biennial
Conference from 28 November to 3 December 2001, in Vancouver, BC.  Visit
the conference Web site at www.smmconference.org for full details of
this important meeting.

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Protected Species Branch Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email: phillip.clapham@noaa.gov

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