Friday, March 2, 2012

Mediterranean fish under threat from gruesome 'Alien' parasite which eats their tongues then lives in their mouths

A gruesome ‘Alien-like’ parasite which eats the tongues of bream and then 'replaces' them in its victims mouths is spreading in the Mediterranean.

Almost half the fish in some areas are infected with the parasite, which swims in through the gills of young fish, then takes up position on top of the tongue, feeding on blood and growing.

Researchers found that the 'cerathotoa italica' parasite - named 'Betty' by the scientists - is spreading fastest in heavily fished waters.

Though the parasite poses no risk to humans, it stunts the growth of the fish, and lowers their life expectancy.

The researchers found that 'Betty' thrived in overfished areas. In a protected area near Spain, only 30% of fish were infected - in heavily fished Italian waters, 47% had fallen victim to the parasite.

Dr Stefano Mariani of the University of Salford said: ‘This is further evidence that human over-exploitation of fish stocks has adverse and far-reaching effects. Areas with poor regulation have smaller, younger fish and, as we’ve now demonstrated, higher and more harmful parasite infestations.' Read More