20 September 2022: New article “Distribution and genetic diversity of Anisakis spp. in cetaceans from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea”

A new article was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports by leading author Paolo Cipriani (University of Rome, Norwegian Institute of Marine Research), and co-authored by Bjarni Mikkelsen, member and former chair of NAMMCOs Scientific Committee.

The study focuses on the distribution and genetic diversity of the parasitic anisakid nematodes of the genus Anisakis in cetaceans of the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Relative proportions of Anisakis spp. in cetaceans (Figure 1 of the paper by Cipriani et al. 2022)

Anisakis spp. have a worldwide distribution and occupy several hosts during their life span. First hosts are small crustaceans, then squid and fish function as intermediate hosts and the final adult stage is reached in cetaceans. They are found in the stomach of toothed and baleen whales.

Using DNA sequence analysis, this study identified a total of 5 Anisakis species in the stomachs of 34 stranded cetaceans of 11 different species The analysis showed a strong host preference by some Anisakis spp. for certain cetacean species or families. A. physteris was only found in sperm whales and pygmy sperm whales while A. simplex, common in Norwegian waters, preferred dolphins and baleen whales. It was the only species found in cetaceans from the Northeast Atlantic.

This new information about anisakid biodiversity in their cetacean definitive hosts, which are apex predators of marine ecosystems, acquires particular importance for conservation measures in the context of global climate change phenomena due to being an indicator for the stability of the food chain.

The full study (including picture) by Cipriani et al. is available here:


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