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Knowledge of cetacean parasites has been obtained from harvested and stranded animals; however, the information obtained from dead animals cannot be considered representative of the ‘normal’ population (Wobeser 1994). Due to the sampling constrictions of free ranging cetaceans, there is no baseline data on population's parasite load. Standardised methodologies are essential to evaluate the relationship between parasite and host and to optimise long-term study (Luz-Carvalho and others 2010). In blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus, eight genera (Diplogonoporus, Priapocephalus, Tetrabothrim, Ogmogaster, Bolbosoma, Anisakis, Crassicauda and Pseudoterranova) of the phylum Acanthocephala, Nematoda and Platyhelminthes have been qualitatively reported (Measures 1993).
The McMaster technique (Mehlhorn 2008) used for quantisation of egg parasites in faeces has been widely used in farm animals (Habela and others 2002) and recently it has been used in exotic species such as the grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus (Schad and others 2004), spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta (Engh and others 2003) and eastern chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii (Krief and others 2005). It has also been recently used in humans (Bondarenko and others 2009).
In this study, the authors report the use, optimisation and application of the McMaster technique in the faeces of blue whale to obtain a baseline dataset on parasite load in individuals sampled in the Gulf of California.
The authors collected 30 faeces samples of blue whales (Fig1) during the 2009–2011 winter-spring fieldworks …