Tetraphyllidean plerocercoids have occasionally been reported in marine mammals, but they have rarely been described in detail, and the ecological significance of these infections is unclear. We described plerocercoids collected from the mucosa of the terminal colon and rectum, the anal crypts, and the hepatopancreatic ducts of 7 striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba, 1 Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris, and 3 Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus from the Spanish Mediterranean. We also examined undescribed plerocercoids from 3 cetacean species from the Atlantic and the Pacific. All plerocercoids had a lanceolate body, and a scolex with an apical sucker and 4 sessile monolocular bothridia. The bothridia had free posterior edges and an accessory sucker at their anterior end. Under light microscopy, the bothridia of some Mediterranean specimens looked bilocular without accessory suckers, but a true accessory sucker was observed in histological sections. A principal component analysis revealed 2 stable clusters of specimens along the first principal component regardless of host species. These “large” and “small” morphotypes are thought to represent early migratory stages of Phyllobothrium delphini and Monorygma grimaldii. The similarity in scolex morphology, the observation of plerocercoids buried in intestinal regions close to the sites where M. grimaldii and P. delphini occur, and the coexistence of all larval forms in the same individual hosts would support this hypothesis. Future molecular analysis may confirm it.
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