[MARMAM] New publication: hypopigmentation in fin whale

Severine Methion severine at thebdri.com
Thu Aug 8 06:24:33 PDT 2019

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

We are pleased to announce our new publication:

Methion S, Diaz Lopez B (2019). First record of atypical pigmentation pattern in fin whale Balaenoptera physalus in the Atlantic Ocean. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 135:121-125. DOI: 10.3354/dao03385 

Atypical pigmentation, which is rarely observed in the wild, may influence social interactions between animals and can be detrimental for survival. Hypopigmentation, which is the lack of pigment in a part or on the entire body, is a type of atypical pigmentation pattern that can be either acquired (e.g. vitiligo) or congenital resulting from the inheritance of mutations in pigment-related genes (e.g. albinism, leucism and piebaldism). This study documents atypical pigmentation in a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) along the northwestern coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Atlantic Ocean). Photographic and video data collected between 2016 and 2017 on 30 individual fin whales were examined. One fully-grown fin whale exhibited hypopigmentation. Several white patches of different shapes and sizes were present across the body of the fin whale including on the head, body, dorsal fin, flippers, and flukes. The position, shape, and lack of inflammation of the white patches on the whale observed, along with its body length and condition might indicate that the depigmentation pattern is due to vitiligo. To our knowledge, this is the first case of atypical pigmentation pattern in fin whales described with photographs and video records. As these observations are rare, especially in highly migratory, long-lived, marine mammal species, this study provides valuable information to better understand the occurrence of this phenomenon. Further studies are needed to determine the ecological and physiological implications of abnormal colourations, which might have a significant influence on the animal´s survival.

The article can be found at the following link: https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/dao/v135/n2/p121-125/

Feel free to contact me to request a pdf or for any question regarding our work at: severine at thebdri.com

Best regards,

Severine Methion, MSc
PhD candidate, Université de Bordeaux
Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute BDRI
Av. Beiramar 192, 36980, O Grove, Pontevedra, Spain

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