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Oarfish autopsy reveals parasite infestation

An 18-foot-long bony oarfish typically found in tropical waters was discovered off the coast of Catalina Island, Sunday Oct. 13, 2013. Jasmine Santana, an instructor with the Catalina Island Marine Institute, found the fish while snorkeling in the waters of Toyon Bay.
October 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
An autopsy of one of the two oarfish recently found off the coast of Southern California reveals it was infested with parasites.

Scientists from University of California, Santa Barbara dissected the carcass of the 18-foot serpent-like creature and found large, larval tapeworms and adult spiny-headed worms in its intestine.

Scientists say the discovery of parasites could reveal what the oarfish's natural enemies are and where the elusive creature lives and hunts for food.

However, their report did not indicate how the oarfish died.

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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