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Scientists Find Larval Tapeworms in 18-Foot Oarfish Off California's Catalina Island (PHOTO)

Oct 31, 2013 11:44 AM EDT | By Justin Stock
Oarfish, Larval Tapeworms

After tearing open an 18-foot oarfish that washed ashore California's Catalina Island Oct. 13, scientists found massive larval tapeworms, one of which measured six inches NBC News reported Tuesday. 

"Our findings say that these are actually majorly parasitized fish," Armand Kuris, professor of zoology at University of California Santa Barbara, said in a statement. "In this little piece of intestine that we had, we found quite a few of these rather large larval tapeworms. One of them was about 15 centimeters (six inches) long."

Scientists found the worms in the species intestine after swabbing tissue samples from the creature's gills, intestine, stomach, spleen, and gallbladder to become more knowledgeable about the species.

"With careful chemical analysis of the lipids and the proteins, we should be able to tell what its diet is and where it fits in the food chain," Russ Vetter said in the podcast NBC News reported.  

Scientists discovered another oarfish five days later on Oct. 18, measuring 14 feet, and fully intact. The massive creature needed a minimum 15 people to heave it up into the air so it could be sent for testing CNN reported.

The discovery was a rarity however because the animal's condition is unusual for species who endure what the whale went through as biologists usually find them charred or bitten by other sea life.

The species, a female saber-toothed whale weighing 2,000 pounds, and known to reside in waters off Alaska was all in one piece, and clinging to life from some shark bites.

"They're so rare and unusual looking," Jim Dines of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles told CNN. "They are like sea monsters, and people really pick up on that. I think it's just really a coincidence. It's too early to tell. If we were to see a whole bunch of these animal strandings that would give more evidence of something going on."

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