Gray whales are hosts to many endo- and ecto-parasites, including barnacles and whale lice. They are major predators of benthic amphipods (Amphipoda) and other marine invertebrates, including ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes). It is not known if gray whales contribute a significant degree of top down control on these prey species. Gray whales are primarily bottom feeders that disrupt muddy ocean bottoms, leaving feeding pits that are then colonized by other organisms. During feeding events, large mud plumes follow whales to the surface, carrying with them many invertebrates that are then eaten by sea birds and fish. Birds commonly associated with gray whales include northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), red phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius), black-legged kitti-wakes (Rissa tridactyla), and thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia). Gray whales also eat herring eggs and spawn (Clupea pallasii) along their coastal migration routes and are considered to be opportunistic feeders that also feed upon schools of small baitfish.
Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat; soil aeration
- barnacles, (Cryptolepas rhachianecti)
- cyamids, (Cyamus)
- trematode, (Ogmogaster antarcticus)
- trematode, (Ogmogaster pentalineatus)
- trematode, (Lecithodesmus goliath)
- spiny-headed worms, (Acanthocephala)
- nematodes, (Anisakis simplex)
- northern fulmar, (Fulmarus glacialis)
- red phalarope, (Phalaropus fulicarius)
- black-legged kitti-wake, (Rissa tridactyla)
- thick-billed murre, (Uria lomvia)
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