Try some of this in your sushi


An advanced parasitic liver infection inside a porcupine fish.
Image: Gary Cranitch.

 

Sushi lovers Terry Miller and Holly Heiniger know exactly what they are eating when they pick up a salmon nigiri – or, more precisely, they know what they are not eating.
 
The pair of parasite experts have certainly never eaten a fish liver quite as decimated as the one shown with this story.
 
Found in a porcupine fish at Shark Bay, off the coast of Heron Island, Terry, a research officer at the Queensland Museum said the fish had an advanced larval tapeworm and nematode infection.
 
"There's hardly any liver tissue left," he said.
 
"Eventually it would kill the fish, then maybe a shark would come along and eat it and complete the parasites' life cycles."
 
Terry and Holly, a PhD student from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Museum, are part of CReefs Australia's parasite team.
 
In addition to this amazing find, the duo have discovered as many as 20 new parasitic species during this field trip.
 
Terry said they expected to discover more.
 
"When you look at a coral reef, more than half the life out there is parasitic," Terry said.
 
During this expedition Terry is collecting helminths, also known as parasitic worms.
 
Holly is collecting myxozoan parasites, which she described as "microscopic beasts" found in the muscle, brain, heart, kidney and gall bladder of fish.
 
"Every fish has some sort of parasite so when you open them up they have something," Terry said.
 
(Just in case you were wondering, Terry said it was common for restaurants to flash freeze raw fish to kill any parasites and ensure the fish was fit for human consumption.)