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New determination of prey and parasite species for northern Indian Ocean Blue Whales

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de Vos, A, Faux, CE, Marthick, J, Dickinson, JL ORCID: 0000-0003-4621-1703 and Jarman, SN 2018 , 'New determination of prey and parasite species for northern Indian Ocean Blue Whales' , Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 5 , pp. 1-8 , doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00104.

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Abstract

Blue whales are little studied, face significant anthropogenic threats and within theNorthern Indian Ocean, have a restricted range, making them an archetype forconservation needs of megafauna around the world. We studied feeding behavior ofblue whales using dietary DNA metabarcoding of fecal samples. While globally bluewhale populations feed predominantly on Euphausiidae, 87% of prey DNA ampliconsextracted from fecal samples from this population were sergestid shrimp, demonstratingthat blue whales can locate and feed on dense swarms of other types of prey whenthey occur. Within the Indian Ocean sergestids are present within the top 300m, whichcorrelates with the deep scattering layer observed by hydroacoustics. Studies suggestthat this requirement to dive deeper in search of prey likely explains the prevalence offluke up diving within this population of blue whales relative to other parts of the globe.Furthermore, this study revealed the presence of acanthocephalan endoparasites withinthe stomach and intestines of the Northern Indian Ocean blue whales. This represents thefirst record of Acanthocephala in blue whales in the Northern Indian Ocean and highlightsthe need for further studies on both the ecto- and endoparasitic flora and monitoring ofhealth of these cetaceans for their management and conservation.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:de Vos, A and Faux, CE and Marthick, J and Dickinson, JL and Jarman, SN
Keywords: DNA metabarcoding, Sri Lanka, Northern Indian Ocean, feces, Sergestidae, Euphausiidae, acanthocephala, krill
Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Marine Science
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN: 2296-7745
DOI / ID Number: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00104
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 de Vos, Faux, Marthick, Dickinson and Jarman. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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