18-foot Oarfish Filled with Parasites

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oarfishOarfish are thought to be the world’s largest bony fish. They can reach over 30 feet long and have a sea serpent reputation from infrequent sightings. However, because these fish live in deep water, usually 650-1,000 feet down, not much is known about them.

Researchers at the University of Santa Barbara recently had a rare opportunity to take samples from the oarfish found last month by a Catalina Island snorkeler. What they found is that apparently oarfish are majorly parasitized fish, housing all sorts of worms and other parasites.

Never before has intact oarfish tissue been collected and dissected to this degree of specificity and such a variety of things discovered. Researchers found 6-inch tapeworms, spiny-headed worms, and roundworms to name a few, and all in just the small samples they had obtained. These findings give insights into the natural enemies of the oarfish and what species it feeds on, giving us an idea of where it lives and hunts for food.

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