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Parasites Found During Dissection Of 18-Foot Oarfish

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Two rare oarfish - one as long as 18 feet - have washed ashore Southland beaches in recent days.

Two rare oarfish – one as long as 18 feet – have washed ashore Southland beaches in recent days.

SANTA BARBARA (AP) — An 18-foot oarfish found off Catalina Island earlier this month had a host of parasites living in its serpent-like body.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara dissected the fish last week 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.

The carcass of the oarfish was found Oct. 13 by a snorkeler. Several days later, another oarfish was found 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.

»COMPLETE COVERAGE: Oarfish

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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