[MARMAM] New Publication: Habitat use pattern of the giant parasitic nematode Crassicauda magna within the pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps

Keenan-Bateman, Tiffany Fay tfk9187 at uncw.edu
Thu Mar 15 09:42:52 PDT 2018

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of the following paper in Diseases of Aquatic Organisms:

Keenan-Bateman TF, McLellan WA, Costidis AM, Harms CA, Gay DM, Rotstein DS, Rommel SA, Potter CW, and DA Pabst. (2018) Habitat use pattern of the giant parasitic nematode Crassicauda magna within the pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps . Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 127:163-175.


The giant (>3 m) parasitic nematode Crassicauda magna infects kogiid whales, although only 3 studies to date have provided detailed descriptions of these worms, all based upon fragmented specimens. These fragments were found within the neck region of kogiids, an unusual anatomic site for this genus of parasites. C. magna is a species-specific parasite among kogiids, infecting only pygmy sperm whales Kogia breviceps, and with a primarily cervico-thoracic distribution. To date, however, the pattern of habitat use within the host and transmission path of this parasite remain unknown. We used detailed dissections (n = 12), histological examination of host tissues (n = 2), and scanning electron microscopy of excised nematodes (n = 7) to enhance our understanding of this host−parasite relationship. Results revealed that a critical habitat for the parasite is an exocrine gland in the whale’s ventral cervical region. C. magna male and female tails were found intertwined within the glandular lumen, and eggs were observed within its presumed secretion, illuminating the transmission path out of the host. The cephalic ends of these worms were often meters away (curvilinearly), embedded deeply within epaxial muscle. A single worm’s complete, tortuous 312 cm course, from the gland to its termination in the contralateral epaxial muscle, is described for the first time. This study also provides the first scanning electron micrograph of C. magna, which illustrate taxonomically important features of the heads and tails of both male and female worms.

This article is available online at: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03205

Or, please feel free to email directly for a PDF copy:  batemankt at uncw.edu

Best regards,

Tiffany F. Keenan-Bateman

Department of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC, 28403

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