Killer whales are top predators in most marine ecosystems and impact the populations of common prey, such as Phocidae and Otariidae in breeding areas. Killer whales are host to some endoparasites and ectoparasites. They are host to killer whale lice (Cyamus orcini), trematodes (Fasciola skiranini), cestodes (Trigonocotyle spasskyi), and nematodes (Anasakis simplex).
A disease that affects killer whales and is often studied is toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii). While this parasite is often benign, it can have serious and fatal effects. (Chadwick, 2001; Endoh et al., 2004; Estes et al., 1998; Heyning and Dahlheim, 1988; Mann et al., 2000)
- Chadwick, D. 2001. Evolution of Whales. National Geographic, Vol. 200 Issue 5: 64-78.
- Estes, J., M. Tinker, T. Williams, D. Doak. 1998. Killer Whale Predation on Sea Otters Linking Oceanic and Nearshore Ecosystems. Science, New Series, Vol. 282 No. 5388: 473-476.
- Heyning, J., M. Dahlheim. 1988. Orcinus orca. Mammalian Species, 304: 1-9.
- Mann, J., R. Connor, P. Tyack, H. Whitehead. 2000. Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637; The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London.