Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 873–876 | Cite as

Pseudostalked barnacles Xenobalanus globicipitis attached to killer whales Orcinus orca in South African waters

  • Thomas Otto WhiteheadEmail author
  • Dominic Paul Rollinson
  • Ryan Rudolf Reisinger
Short Communication


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.


Xenobalanus 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.

Supplementary material

12526_2014_296_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (2.1 mb)
Fig. S1 Photographs of Xenobalanus globicipitis attached to the dorsal fin of a killer whale Orcinus orca in False Bay, South Africa (photo credits: D Hurwitz). (JPEG 2136 kb)
12526_2014_296_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (1.4 mb)
Fig. S2 Photograph of Xenobalanus globicipitis attached to the tail flukes of a killer whale Orcinus orca off the coast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa (photo credit: L Edwards). (JPEG 1399 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Otto Whitehead
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dominic Paul Rollinson
    • 1
  • Ryan Rudolf Reisinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of ExcellenceUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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