Skip to main content

Meet the Fish Tongue-Eating Sea Louse, Cymothoa Exigua

Have you heard about Cymothoa Exigua, the parasite that replaces a fish’s tongue?

This is pretty gross, I mean, really gross.

The Cymothoa Exigua is a marine parasite that is, shall we say, a bit clingy.

Take a minute to learn more about the utterly disgusting Cymothoa Exigua in this clip from NOVA.

Luckily, the Cymothoa Exigua does not feed on humans.

Once attached to a fish tongue, the Cymothoa Exigua will suck all the blood out until the tongue atrophies. The fish will then use the louse as a prosthetic tongue to eat food. How about that?

Cymothoa Exigua are commonly found in fish off the California coast. They have also been found in Atlantic red snapper.

If anything, just think of this as a reminder to look inside the mouths of your catches before you cook them. You might even want to check the red snapper you buy at the grocery store; There might be a treat waiting inside.

While you’re at it, you might want to check what’s inside your fish’s stomachs when you’re cleaning them. Last week we reported a story about a Mississippi angler who found a fist-sized water bottle stuffed inside a redfish’s belly.

Yuck.

WATCH

SEE MORE: ONE OF KIND BOWFISHING WITH AN ARROW AIR GUN

Meet the Fish Tongue-Eating Sea Louse, Cymothoa Exigua