It Pays To Be Nice To Your Tongue-Eating Isopod, Unfortunate Weaverfish.

fish tongue eat isopod

The rare Tongue-eating louse (Cymothoa exigua) has been found inside a weaverfish by fishermen off the coast of the Minquiers, a small group of islands under the jurisdiction of Jersey. Although called a louse, it is actually a 2cm-long parasitic isopod crustacean, and it survives by burrowing into a fish through its gills, attaching itself to the muscular base of the tongue, and sucking the blood from it until it eventually withers away to nothing. The isopod then behaves almost like a replacement tongue, causing no additional harm to the host fish as it feeds off the scraps of food that enter its mouth.

Now Weaverfish, this situation can go either way, depending on how well you treat your new, umm, guest, and if you want my opinion, you should probably try to make the most of things because that isopod isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. But, you know, it’s your isopod, and you’ve got to make up your own mind, so here’s where I can see it going.

If you do decide to be civil to your new isopod, making him feel welcome and almost like a friend, (as opposed to a horrifying parasitic nightmare who just devoured one of your very important organs) I’m sure he’d be more than happy to pay a little for his keep. Like, you know that cute lady weaverfish you like but are too shy to talk to, so you always end up having a conversation with whomever is sitting next to you at the time and, oh shit, it’s that dude who responds to everything you say with a, “Haha! Weaverfish, you’re great. I’m buying you a drink… JK! Haha! Seriously though, I’m too poor,” which in turn reduces you to guiltily tweeting about how mediocre the mysis shrimp tastes while the cute lady weaverfish regales everyone with her hilariously cringe-worthy stories about being brought up by two really sexually-liberated parents? Well, your isopod will probably think she’s kinda gross because he’s not that into girls, he’s more into very important organs, so you guys could totally do the old, “Oh here’s a neat idea – why don’t you tell me what to say to the boy/girl I like because you’re so eloquent and/or suave and I’m so stupid and/or shy and she/he will totally fall in love with me because they’ll think I’m eloquent and/or suave too?” shtick. And it’ll be so much easier than when most awkward lovers try it because, for obvious reasons, your isopod won’t have to submerge himself in a clump of seaweed nearby to hide from the cute lady weaverfish’s view. And being internal, you’re unlikely to have one of those disastrous, “Lady weaverfish, being with you is like….eternal parasite? Hey fuck you, Isopod, do it properly! Jerk. What? Oh. Umm… Being with you is like eternal paradi… Oh she’s gone. Shit,” moments.

And your isopod would also be a great asset for when you play trivia, because I bet you could easily fit a tiny set of encyclopedias in there with him (no, Weaverfish, there aren’t any waterproof smart phones yet, I’ve checked) and maybe even a very tiny atlas as well. You’d never get bored because everyone will think you’re a total genius and you won’t even have to do that thing where you screw your own team over by making up ridiculous answers and convincing them they’re the right ones, purely for the LOLs.*

On the other hand, you could be a right shit about the situation and every time you run into someone and they ask you how you are, you roll your eyes all like, “Well I would be fantastic if it wasn’t for this fucking isopod who sucked my tongue dry and permanently latched himself onto the stumpy remains with his razor-sharp claws.” Isopods have feelings too, Weaverfish. He’ll just get pissed off and upset and before you know it, you’ll be quietly swimming past a bunch of jellyfish, minding your own business, when all of a sudden your isopod calls out through your gills, “Hey, arseholes! Take your incomplete digestive systems elsewhere! Seriously, no one needs to see you take a shit out of your face. NO ONE!” After which one of them will come over, give you both the literal and figurative version of a shit-eating grin, and ask you if you know what it feels like to be gang-raped by a bunch of jellies. Quick as a flash your isopod will tell them you don’t, but you bet they fuck like a bunch of really bored women and you’ll barely feel a thing. Suddenly you’ll be surrounded by fifty-odd jellyfish wearing those shit-eating grins and, well, Weaverfish, we should probably leave it there.

Then later you’ll be swimming along, once again minding your own business, and you’ll pass a long-finned pilot whale who’s having a particularly bad day. Before you can even attempt to cover your gills up with your tiny fins, your isopod will be like, “Hey, long-finned pilot whale! You’re the worst dolphin ever. Just because you act like a whale and people call you a whale, doesn’t mean you’ve finally found your place in the world. What a fucking phony. Get out of my ocean!” And yes, your isopod does have a death wish because that long-finned pilot whale might act a lot like a whale, but he certainly doesn’t eat like one. Plankton and krill won’t save you this time, foolish Weaverfish!

So yes, this situation is really not ideal for anyone (except maybe your isopod, who gets free food, accomodation and transport), but there’s no excuse for being a whiny little bitch that no one wants to play with. Your isopod is not unlike a government-supported gypsy and it’s like I always say: Cross a gypsy, and you’ve got no one but yourself to blame when they throw babies at you while they steal your wallet.

* Plus they’ll probably stop inviting you if you do this too many times, Weaverfish. Believe me, I know.

BBC original report.

– bec

1 Comment

Filed under Science, Sea Creatures

One response to “It Pays To Be Nice To Your Tongue-Eating Isopod, Unfortunate Weaverfish.

  1. tash

    this is awesome ^^

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