Pseudostalked barnacles Xenobalanus globicipitis attached to killer whales Orcinus orca in South African waters
Several records describe pseudostalked barnacles Xenobalanus globicipitis attached to killer whales Orcinus orca, yet little is known of this association in South African waters. Here we describe Xenobalanus prevalence on killer whales in South African waters and assemble previous records. Killer whales were photographed opportunistically between July and September 2013. Sex and age class were determined, and if Xenobalanus were present, attachment site and colony size were noted. A prevalence of 50 % was recorded, with barnacles most commonly observed on the dorsal fin and tail flukes. The high prevalence of Xenobalanus on killer whales in South African waters and lack thereof on killer whales at Marion Island implies that these are separate populations, and thus we suggest Xenobalanus prevalence as an additional means to distinguish between these populations.
KeywordsXenobalanus globicipitis Orcinus orca Killer whale Barnacle Epibiont South Africa
The authors thank Lloyd Edwards of Raggy Charters and David Hurwitz of Simon’s Town Boat Company for providing additional killer whale observations, as well as the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Funding for killer whale work at Marion Island was provided by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka programme, the South African Department of Science and Technology through the NRF, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (project number: 10251290) and the International Whaling Commission’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership. The Department of Environmental Affairs supplied logistic support within the South African National Antarctic Programme.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflicting interests.
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