It is with great pleasure that we announce the publication of our new paper: 
New Determination of Prey and Parasite Species for Northern Indian Ocean Blue 

Abstract: Blue whales are little studied, face significant anthropogenic 
threats and within the Northern Indian Ocean, have a restricted range, making 
them an archetype for conservation needs of megafauna around the world. We 
studied feeding behavior of blue whales using dietary DNA metabarcoding of 
fecal samples. While globally blue whale populations feed predominantly on 
Euphausiidae, 87% of prey DNA amplicons extracted from fecal samples from this 
population were sergestid shrimp, demonstrating that blue whales can locate and 
feed on dense swarms of other types of prey when they occur. Within the Indian 
Ocean sergestids are present within the top 300 m, which correlates with the 
deep scattering layer observed by hydroacoustics. Studies suggest that this 
requirement to dive deeper in search of prey likely explains the prevalence of 
fluke up diving within this population of blue whales relative to other parts 
of the globe. Furthermore, this study revealed the presence of acanthocephalan 
endoparasites within the stomach and intestines of the Northern Indian Ocean 
blue whales. This represents the first record of Acanthocephala in blue whales 
in the Northern Indian Ocean and highlights the need for further studies on 
both the ecto- and endoparasitic flora and monitoring of health of these 
cetaceans for their management and conservation. 

Full citation: de Vos, A., Faux, C., Marthick, J.,  Dickinson, J., Jarman, S. 
(2018), New determination of prey and parasite species for Northern Indian 
Ocean Blue Whales, Front. Mar. Sci. 5: 104. 

Full paper available at:

 `·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸·´¯`·.. ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º>

Asha de Vos Ph.D.

Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation
National Geographic Explorer
TED Fellow
WEF Young Global Leader

Founder, Oceanswell

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