How Do Barnacles Attach to Whales

How Do Barnacles Attach to Whales?
It’s hard out there for a symbiotic barnacle, but somehow they find a way...
Barnacles Attach to Whales
Barnacles regularly colonize the skin of filter-feeding whales, and they often do so in huge numbers — one humpback whale, for instance, can host almost 1,000 pounds of barnacles. (That may sound burdensome, but relative to a humpback’s nearly 80,000-pound body, it’s about as much extra weight as summer clothing on a human being.)
Whale-bound barnacles aren’t just regular barnacles with wanderlust; they’re different species, most of them unique to the brand of whale they piggyback on.
For a hungry barnacle, the rim of a baleen whale’s nostril isn’t a terrible place to be. When the whale swims through a cloud of plankton for a meal, the barnacle — which also feeds on the tiny, floating organisms — gets free table service. All it has to do is extend its feathery, filtering arm and wait.
So how does a barnacle get onto a whale in the first place? Like other stationary marine invertebrates, barnacles begin their lives as larvae — tiny, shell-less swimmers that find a place to settle and develop into the sturdy barnacles we know. Easy enough when all you want to stick to is an immobile rock, but a whale?
How Do Barnacles Attach to Whales? The uniqueness of whale barnacle species means that whaling and whale habitat loss put not only the whales at risk, but also their hitchhiking Barnacle companions
Barnacles Attach to Whales

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