Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Introduction to Callosities

What are callosities?
Callosities are roughened patches of skin found on the Eubalaena genus of whale, more commonly known as the Right Whale. These patches can be likened to the calluses that can be found on our own feet or hands after some especially harsh activity, such as a long hike or trying to open a stuck lid of a jar. The callosities themselves are not white -- they're gray -- it's the "whale lice" that lives on and around these callosities that give the right whales their patchy white appearance.

What is whale lice?
Whale Lice, believe it or not, is not actually lice in the way that we humanoids think of them. They're actually a crustacean, like crabs and shrimp. Scientifically known as three different species -- Cyamus ovalis, C. gracilis, and C. erraticus -- these "lice" occupy the callosities of right whales while feeding on dead skin. What a treat!

Why, then, is this blog called 'Callosities'?
There are so many amazing, fascinating, extraordinary things to know in this world. There is so much that we humans don't know, but we're taking steps to learn every day. When someone asks me about whales -- which happens quite frequently, as I seem to have a growing reputation as someone who knows things about whales -- I try to tell them something they haven't heard before. Often this leads to me excitedly describing callosities and whale lice.

We've all been told to "save the whales," but I think that many people feel bombarded with so much do this and do that that it can be easy to forget the intelligence and beauty of these majestic megafauna, and how we can appreciate them as a creature in our world.

And so, future readers, I hope you enjoy this blog for what it is: An attempt to reach more people and share the wonder that whales bring to our world every day.


For those interested in learning a bit more, I suggest you head over to The Other 95% for a great post about callosities and whale lice. Enjoy!

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