What if a sneaky parasite ate your entire tongue then lived in your mouth acting as a replacement? You would have a tongue sized bug living there forever! That’s what happens to some fish when the tongue eating louse finds them…
Just the other day while fishing from my kayak I saw, for the first time, a tongue eating louse..this thing fell out of the mouth of a small trevally I caught .this is the first time I have ever encountered one of these but I knew what it was thanks to a book my 7 year old son Milan has, a book that we read regularly called 100 Most disgusting things on the planet, by Anna Claybourne . The louse fell out of the gills onto my kayak so I whipped out my Panasonic FT3 camera and filmed it on the deck..take a look at the footage below…I also kept it on the kayak hatch to show the kids once I got back to the beach and Milan remembered what it was straight away..
But first some facts –
- The 4-cm louse invades the fish by swimming through its gills. It attaches itself the the fish’s tongue and sucks the blood from it until the tongue drops off.
- Then the louse clings to the muscles at the base of the tongue, and becomes a new tongue for the fish!
- It feeds on the fish’s blood and fluids
- It appears the parasite causes no other damage to the host fish?
Sure enough I took a look at the mouth of the Trevally and saw little, too no tongue left! although there is no evidence to suggest that eating a fish that has hosted a louse could harm humans, I personally don’t feel comfortable eating the fish now that I have seen the louse…
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has experienced these parasites and if are harmful to humans in any way ? apparently they are common but this is the first I have ever seen…
Milan, Amelia and Alexander greeting me at the beach after this session (Alexander is holding the tongue-less Trevally! )