Hitching a ride on a dolphin and a whale

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barnacles-and-lice-on-a-right-whale
Some species of barnacles and lice have figured out what a rewarding choice of “real estate” the living bodies of dolphins and whales can be.
They live their lives attached to the bodies of dolphins, whales and other marine species, Some of these “hitchhikers” exclusively attach to certain parts of marine mammals, creating their own microhabitats right on their unsuspecting hosts.  The barnacles are filtering organisms, trapping food particles in water as the bits of food flow by.

Barnacles from the species Xenobalanus globicipitis, hang from the underside of a dolphin fin
Barnacles from the species Xenobalanus globicipitis, hang from the underside of a dolphin fin

Poetic bottom line: from Francisco Javier Aznar, senior author of the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Some years ago, a colleague wrote rather poetically that riding a dolphin would be the dream for a barnacle for two reasons,”

First, the movement of water the dolphin produces around it during swimming is rather predictable and, therefore, can advantageously be used by barnacles..

Second, no predator can chase a fast dolphin to feed on their barnacles!”

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