Whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

How Do Barnacles Attach to Whales? | Scienceline

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

WHALE Barnacles can be specific to species. The Blue Whale barnacles and the barnacles that live on the Sperm Whale are different. The Humpback Whale. The barnacle-whale relationship is generally considered to be obligate commensalism — a type of symbiosis where one species benefits, and. ____ Identify the relationship of each of the organism pairs below as commensalism, mutualism, or parasitism. This neither harms nor benefits the whales. Symbiotic Relationships Worksheet—Good Buddies Barnacle/Whale Symbiotic.

Before explaining the specific nature of their symbiotic relationship with marine birds, Trull helped to give us a better understanding of Humpback Whales.

In their animal classification, they are of the order Cetacea, suborder Mysticeti. These whales spend summers in the cooler waters near the Cape and winters in more tropical areas.

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

Another interesting fact Trull provided is that these whales, being mammals with lungs similar to ours, are unlike humans in that they are voluntary breathers. Humpback Whales feed primarily on sand eels also known as sandlancesthis food source is what leads to their interesting relationship with marine birds.

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

To better illustrate this relationship, Trull outlined the three types of symbiosis: If you think of mutualism as mutually beneficial, and parasitism as one benefitting at the cost of the well-being of the other, commensalism falls right in between.

Commensalism is a type of symbiotic relationship where one species will benefit while not affecting the other species in a positive or negative way.

What Are Symbiotic Relationships?

The relationship between Humpback Whales and marine birds is an excellent example of commensalism. Humpback Whales will consume up to 1 ton of sand eels every day. When a large school of these fish is located near the surface of the water, the whales will then rise up with their mouths agape and take in mouthfuls of them. This method is particularly effective for the whales to consume the food they need to survive, but it also benefits other species as well.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between a Barnacle Living on a Whale's Skin

Take the green ant Oecophylla smaragdina for example, this aggressive ant nests in trees where it provides protection from insects that harm the tree. In return the tree provides nourishment for the ants in the form of nectar. The picture shown on the right of a flame tree in Arnhem Land, Australia, clearly shows how green ants nest in the foliage of trees.

Click to see a detailed image. Green ants use the foliage of the plant to build nests.


These nests are made by joining leaves together using a silky substance produced by their larvae. If the leaves are not close enough to be bound, ants form ant chains to pull the leaves close together. Click to see a more detailed image Some Australian native trees produce very exotic flowers, as shown on the right the flower of the Flame tree, with nectar to entice a beneficial relationship with particular insects.

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

Click to see a detailed image There are three different types of symbiotic relationships, these include: An example of mutualism is the relationship between bees and flowering plants. Both organisms benefit in the relationship, the bee derives nectar and pollen from the plant while the plant becomes cross fertilised by the bees.

Amazing barnacles on Beached Whale

On the right is a picture of an Australian native bee, known as the blue banded bee Amegilla cingulata Click to see a detailed image. The relationship between the barnacles and the whale is an example of commensalism, where the barnacles benefit by being transported to food rich regions of the ocean while the whale is not harmed in any way in this relationship. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants in a non-parasitic relationship. Although an epiphyte derives its moisture and nutrients independently of its host it benefits by been high above the ground out of reach of herbivores and where there is more sunlight.

The host plant does not benefit nor is it harmed.

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

This relationship also is an example of commensalism. Another type of relationship is known as a predator-prey relationship. Simply put, a predator is an organism that eats another organism.

whales and barnacles mutualism relationship

The organism being eaten is the prey while the organism eating the other is the predator. For example, a dragonfly will eat flies and therefore the dragonfly is the predator while the fly is the prey.