Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: The parasite faunas of threatened and protected species of marine mammals are poorly known, and records of helminth biodiversity are lacking for some regions including the Caribbean. Knowledge of parasite distribution, among hosts and geographically, is an important adjunct to studies of cetacean biology. Parasitological data are important in understanding food habits and migratory patterns of hosts, and as indicators of environmental quality in aquatic ecosystems. We document the first detailed records for the distribution of helminth parasites and crustacean commensals from 47 animals representing 16 species of whales and dolphins; most represent new host and geographic distributions for these parasites. These data will be applied to developing a more complete understanding of the status and biology of cetaceans in waters adjacent to the United States.
Technical Abstract: The parasite fauna in cetaceans from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and the larger Caribbean region is poorly known. We provide the first records for helminth biodiversity among a diverse assemblage of cetaceans in the Caribbean Sea. Internal and external parasites and commensals were collected from dead whales and dolphins salvaged in Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin islands, Jamaica and Venezuela between 1989 and 1997. A total of 47 individuals of 16 species of whales and dolphins (15 odontocetes; 1 mysticete) was examined. Parasites and commensals were found in 34 animals (13 odontocetes; 1 mysticete); 18 species of helminths were found including 8 nematodes, 2 digeneans, 6 cestodes and 2 acanthocephalans. Four species of whale lice and 2 species of barnacles were collected. New host and geographic records substantially increase out knowledge of the biodiversity of parasite faunas among cetaceans in the Caribbean.