Recent Texas catch ‘spooky’ but also fascinating

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A fish caught recently off Texas was jokingly described as a “Martian,” in large part because of an invasive parasite that appeared inside its mouth.

“OK, so not really [a Martian], but this is still pretty spooky,” Galveston Island State Park stated on Facebook.

The fish is an Atlantic croaker, whose mouth had been occupied by a tongue-eating louse.

According to the park, the louse enters a fish’s mouth through its gills, severs the tongue and serves as a functioning tongue while feeding on mucous.

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“It also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally replaces a host’s organ,” the park added.

If these aren’t fun or savory facts, there is good news regarding the tongue-eating louse: “It does not kill the fish or affect humans.”

–Image courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife