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Parasites found in California ‘sea serpent’ dissection


  • The crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors held an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island, Calif. on Oct. 13. Scientists from the UC-Santa Barbara have dissected the fish and found large, larval tapeworms in its intestine. (AP Photo/Catalina Island Marine Institute, File)
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. » One of two oarfish found in Southern California waters earlier this month had a host of parasites living in its giant, serpent-like body.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara last week dissected the 18-foot oarfish found off Catalina Island and found large, larval tapeworms in its intestine. An adult spiny-headed worm also was found embedded in the intestine.

Scientists say the discovery of the parasites is important because it tells them what the natural enemies of the oarfish are and could indicate where the elusive fish lives or hunts for food.

A snorkeler found the carcass of the oarfish Oct. 13. Several days later, another oarfish washed ashore in Oceanside.

It’s not known how either died.

The rarely seen deep sea-dwelling creatures can grow to more than 50 feet.

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