Symbiosis Whales and Barnacles
Barnacles feed by attaching themselves to a whale's belly or back, allowing the Barnacles and whales express a symbiotic relationship with eachother. I've already shared with you a bit about segmentation when I related how Vegas thinks about minnows, dolphins and whales. You'll recall that I. Although some barnacles are parasites, most are filter feeders. Filter-feeding barnacles are the type that engage in symbiotic relationships with whales.
They're believed to be one of the oldest surviving animals on Earth. There are more than 1, species of barnacles inhabiting brackish and saltwater environments worldwide.
The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a Whale's Skin | Animals - 572233.info
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.
What's on that whale?
Commensalism, in which only one species benefits without causing significant harm to the other, is the type of symbiosis between barnacles and whales. Just like people, whales can have tapeworms. The largest tapeworm in the world was found in a whale, and measured over 30 metres long! Another type of relationship between two species is called commensalism, where one species benefits from an interaction, while the other remains unaffected.
Barnacles on some types of whales have a commensal relationship. The barnacles benefit from having a place to settle and filter food from the passing water, while the whales do not seem to suffer any negative consequences from their presence.
Unbelievably, one healthy humpback whale was found to have kg of barnacles growing on it!
Whale barnacle - Wikipedia
Although that seems like quite a heavy load, that amount of weight for a whale would be the equivalent of a human wearing shorts and a t-shirt. In some situations, this barnacle coverage can actually act like a suit of armour.
By rolling, they present the attacking whales with a back full of hard, sharp barnacles — a much tougher surface to penetrate. Have you seen grey or white patches of barnacles on whale skin? The barnacles can have many other hosts such as sea turtles and other marine animals. However, there are two main important reasons why the barnacles and whales share this commensal relationship. Their main motive is to be able to find nutrients as they travel across the sea with their host, particularly, the whale.
These barnacles are known to be suspension feeders. The outer shell of the barnacle consists of certain "plates" that helps them draw water into their shell 2. Another reason barnacles attach themselves to the host is to migrate to different locations.
Once they attach to a host in their adult stage, they remain there for three to five years 2. Even though the barnacles are attached to the host throughout their life span, they are being migrated to different habitats without the use of their own energy.
This is an example of phoersy that Claudes mentions in his text 5. In this commensal relationship, the whale is not highly affected. According to the whale, the barnacles are simply unnoticed.
However, a slight noticeable cost for the host is the annoyance and itchiness that is caused by the barnacles 4.
- The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a Whale's Skin
A major benefit for both these creatures is that they both are filter feeders. While the tooth-less baleen whales feed mostly on plankton, the barnacles pretty much eat whatever comes their way, also consuming plankton 2.
The benefits outweigh the costs for the barnacles. A benefit for the barnacle is that it gets its food as it travels on the host.