Everytime you sit down to watch a premiere in this weeks Discovery Channel shark week, I want you to imagine something: every single shark you see is loaded with parasites. All of them. On the gills, sometimes on the skin, and especially in their unique spiral valve intestine, live a myriad critters that make their living off the top predators in the ocean. Which makes you wonder, are they really the top? Hmmmm….
In celebration of this carnival of diversity that exploits our toothy friends, AMNH curator/blogger Susan Perkins (ably supported by a veritable Who’s Who of fish parasitologists from around the world) is hosting a parade of bugs for shark week on her blog Parasite-a-Day. Here’s what she’s had so far:
August1. Anthobothrium, an elegant tapeworm. Yes, I said elegant. You got a problem with that?
August 2. Gnathiid isopods. The ticks of the marine realm, blood meal anyone?
August 3. Branchotenthes robinoverstreeti. A six-suckered monogenean from the guitarfish
August 4. Pandarus rhincodonicus. A parasitic copepod that likes to hitch a ride on the lips oif whale sharks.
Keep an eye on the blog for the rest of the week and beyond. Its a fantastic showcase of parasite diversity