Cetacean ecology

Humpback whale shows off flukes on a dive

Humpback whale shows off flukes on a dive

I have to say that once I saw the title of the next article in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, my eyes instantly started to glaze over. But thankfully I pulled it together, started reading and it turns out that cetacean ecology is pretty interesting.

Just a quick recap for people wondering what a cetacean is. Cetacea is the scientific order that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises, which are then referred to as cetaceans. And cetacean ecology “describes the relationships between cetaceans and their physical and biological environment, including their interactions with prey, predators, competitors and commensals.”

Of course it’s an encyclopedia article so there’s always mystifying words. Commensals turns out to be a reference to commensalism, which is “a relationship or association of organisms in which one individual benefits at no expense or damage to the other organism.” A good example is whale lice, which lives on a whale but doesn’t hurt it.

But I digress. Cetacean ecology is fascinating because it includes 84 different species and scientists in this field have the challenge of identifying patterns within all this diversity. These patterns establish a broader framework for understanding the lives of cetaceans within the context of the marine environment. This is the introductory post on cetacean ecology. Stay tuned for more detailed and intriguing information…


  1. J Napoli says

    Ah, yes, this post promises a tantalizing bevy of upcoming information. And thank you for explaining commensals!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *