Subject: Fish on whales

Phil Clapham (
Thu, 14 Jan 1999 06:42:43 -0500


Nope, you didn't dream it.  Various things attach themselves to whales,
including lampreys and remoras.  They don't feed off the whale, but
rather use it as a means of transport.

You might email Dagmar Fertl, a marine mammal biologist who has done
some work on this (if I'm remembering correctly; oh, and she was the ASK
Scientist of the Week last week, so go hit her up!  She's very nice). 
Her email is

Have a nice time moving to Boston.  It's snowing there at the moment!

Phil wrote:
> Hi Phil from a soon-to-be Bostonian!
> You're just the man I've been looking for to answer my question! (I hope!)
>         It seems to me that I once saw (maybe on an old Jacques Cousteau 
> where some small fish would travel around on the backs of whales. Does this
> make sense? If so, what are these fish called and why do they do this? Are
> they feeding off of something on the whale's back?
> I've been searching the net for this info and cannot find it on any webpage!
> (Of course, I realize it's a strange question!)
> I THANK YOU in advance for any help you can give me.
> -Lynn


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316
fax (508) 495-2066