Whale Lice

Hundreds to thousands of tiny crustaceans live on each right whale, eating algae that settles on their skin.
(© Michael Moore/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This close-up photo of a right whale's head shows dozens of hitchhikers—tiny crustaceans known as whale lice, or cyamid amphipods. They live on the rough patches of skin (known as callosities) on North Atlantic right whales, eating algae that settles there and only causing minor skin damage. Distinctive patterns formed by their white bodies crowding around rough patches on whales’ skin help researchers tell one right whale from another!

Tags: Whales