Shopper buys a fish containing bizarre and horrific parasite

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Cymothoa exigua

A shocked consumer got more than what he paid for this week when the fish he bought was host to one of the world’s most grotesque and disgusting parasites — a tongue biter.

The tongue-eating louse (Cymothoa exigua) is an ugly isopod which climbs through a fish’s gills and then eats its tongue. That’s nasty enough, but then the hideous bug attaches its anus bung-pipe into the fish’s mouth and effectively replaces the animals tongue using its own body. The fish and crustacean then live symbiotically, with the fish using the parasite as a tongue, and the louse feeding from its host blood or feasting on fish mucus.

So you see the terrible little blighter is a disgusting freeloader, and Irish seafood fan Rick Beattie found one inside the mouth of a delicious bass he’d purchased from his local Tesco’s in Belfast. As Rick prepared his dinner he happened to shake the fish by its tail and the inch-long parasitic grub fell out of the bass’ mouth.

“It was like something from a horror film.” Rick said.

“I’ve contacted Tesco and they’ve apologised and promised me a refund.”

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