Sea Run Parasites 9/13

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Salvelinus, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Salvelinus Member

    Posts: 187
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    Went fishing for silvers this morning. Did not catch any silvers, but I managed to catch two sea run cutts. One was probably 13 inches and full of fight and the other was about 9 inches. They both had a bunch of strange, ugly parasites on them. Otherwise they appeared very healthy and certainly ate and fought like healthy fish. Has anyone seen this before? Maybe the parasites are common in the area I was fishing. I posted a picture of them; sorry it is not great. Unlike the usual salmon sea lice, these beeotches were spread around randomly on the bodies.
  2. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
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    Hard to see, but looks like sea lice to me.
  3. Salvelinus Member

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    Yeah sorry I don't know why my pictures come up so zoomed in on the forums. I was just surprised by how many lice there were and that they were all over the body as opposed to just around the anal fin.
  4. Guillaume New Member

    Posts: 76
    Woodinville, WA
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    Yes, looks like sea lice which I believe is common and does not hurt the fish.
  5. Mingo the Menehune stole my beer

    Posts: 2,627
    Happy Hour, WA
    Ratings: +373 / 1
    Dunno Salv, I've seen those too and brought this up regarding fish I caught at Lincoln Park. One of them was really sorry looking, totally covered with them! Sea lice tend to loiter around the poopshoot like you said, but I haven't seen any fish covered on the back and sides with sea lice before.

    Those look like the same things I saw and I don't think they are sea lice but some other kind of weird crustacean/armadillo parasite. They seem a lot bigger than basic lice ................. wonder if there's something in the water down there eh?
  6. gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

    Posts: 741
    Gig Harbor, Wa, USA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I have to agree that does look like sea lice to me too. How ever I have caught SRCs that had odd goop like parasites on them, anyone know what they are??

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  7. Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator

    Posts: 1,860
    Somewhere you don't know about, WA
    Ratings: +53 / 1
    I caught a few SRC's earlier in may in henderson bay with about 15 sea lice on them and one with more. The odd part much like Salvelinus is they were everywhere, form the nose to almost the tail. They fought fine but looked like they were uncomfortable on the fish cause they were everywhere.
  8. tinpusher Member

    Posts: 54
    Surrey, BC
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    Same lice are on the fish in and around Victoria.
  9. HotinTotten New Member

    Posts: 62
    Olympia, WA
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    Ive seen the same things in the 2nd pic Salvelinus posted, asked the folks up at the Tumwater hatchery what they thought, and the answer was cocopods and not sea lice. Sea lice are the small skittering 'bugs' I believe, and the cocopods are the large nearly immobile beasts dressed in the dark green camo colors suctioned on for dear life, mainly clustered on the backs and around the gills. Thats what I was told, at least...
  10. TomB Active Member

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    sea lice is the common name for several species of parasitic copepods.
  11. Jim Kerr Active Member

    Posts: 693
    Forks Wa
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    I see those critters all the time, as has been mentioned earlier sometime the fish are totally covered with them. They are not the same sea lice you see on salmon, but even fish that are totaly coated are generally fat and healthy.
  12. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,713
    Olympia, WA
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    Hi folks,

    I caught a searun yesterday in Budd Inlet that was also covered with the same type of parasitic crustacean. They are disk-shaped with a few legs hanging out the sides near the back end. The poor fish that I landed had a dozen or more along its dorsal side, along and behind the dorsal fin, but I plucked them off with my forceps before releasing the fish. These are a type of parasitic copepod called a sea louse, in the genus Argulus. There are actually several different genera of parasitic copepods with the common name fish louse/sea louse/gill louse and the term is also used for some parasitic isopods (think marine pill bugs). I was quite surprised to see a fish this heavily infested with this species. It is pretty common to find individuals from smaller species (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) of these external parasites near the anal fins of salmon when in saltwater; these are the ones that you see with white strings (egg sacs) trailing behind them. [There has been a lot of recent controversy in B.C. regarding the boost in populations of this smaller parasites from net-pen salmon and their impact on wild pink juveniles that migrate by the pens.]

    In any event, they attach to the skin or gills with suckers and hooks. They inject digestive enzymes into the body and suck out blood, mucus, and body fluids. Repeated injections can cause inflammation and lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Plus, if the fish are stressed, it can reduce their immune function and open them up to other infections. The life cycle of these crustaceans are from 40 to 100 days, depending in large part on water temperature and they have stages that can overwinter in the sediment. It is possible that fish populations in places like Budd Inlet carry higher infestation rates than those from other places because Budd and others don't flush well or because they have good habitat for the larval stages.

  13. HotinTotten New Member

    Posts: 62
    Olympia, WA
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    I too had heard that salmon rearing has increased the frequency of these critters on the wild fish, but also know that locally here there arent any fish pens. Plenty of mussels and oyster farming, and I've been curious if just the added biomass/ extra crowding in the bays could account for a weakening of the fish species. I like your ideas, Steve, hadnt really thought about the limited water circulation or the substrate being ideal for the larval stages. Same as others have commented, the health of the fish isnt apparently threatened by them, seen a few fish covered with a couple dozen of the tagalongs, and the fish seem fat and powerful. Now that the water is cooling down, hopefully we'll all see less of them for awhile.
  14. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,795
    Marysville, Washington
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    The critters you are finding on the sea-runs is a different sea louse that has been causing problems in the area of BC net pens (they are the ones you commonly see on humpies, coho, etc).

    Tight lines
  15. Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    Posts: 3,973
    Olympic Peninsula
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    Smalma I am seeing these same lice on the sea run cutts here in Admiralty Inlet, upper Hood Canal area, sometimes a fish will be virtually covered with them. I have observed very few ulcerated fish though.
  16. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
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    I'm told that these critters fall off very quickly once the cutthroat moves into fresh water. Smalma may be able to help us out with this take on the critters.

  17. Smalma Active Member

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    Marysville, Washington
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    Bob -
    I have seen them in the north Sound area as well however as Les points outs I have never seen one on a fish in freshwater, the estuary of the larger rivers or the nearby bays with low salinity.

  18. gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

    Posts: 741
    Gig Harbor, Wa, USA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I have been catching a lot of cutthroat with both the parasitic copepod sea lice, and what ever the parasite is that I pictured above. In low densities, sea lice really do not have any noticeable adverse affects on fish, but they can be big problems when the show up in high densities.

    One problem with sea lice is that they can be vectors for diseases such as salmon anemia which has had some devastating implications for fish farms. Sub-lethal effects of sea lice can also be a big problem, because although the lice fall off in the fresh water, they take away from the finite amount of energy that fish such as salmon which do not feed in freshwater have when they travel to their spawning grounds. Studies have also show that when fish are infected with high densities of sea lice their swimming ability is reduced, and are subject to chronic stress.

    These issues can be a big deal when it comes to safetly releasing cutthroat or salmon that have a lot of sea lice. Making it much more important that the fish are fought and released quickly.

    I still have no clue what the other parasite that I showed above is, but they are quite common in the south sound.
  19. Dale Dennis Formally Double-D

    Posts: 527
    Arlington, WA
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    In my own abservations I started seeing this type of copepod (sea lice) in South Hood Canal on Searuns about the mid 90's, at that time there were few cutts that had this parasite. It has dramaticly increased over the years to almost epidemic porprotions. In the North Sound this parasite didn't begin showing up until the last several years. Another thing I have noticed that a few searuns will not have this parasite. Is it because they have just returned from fresh water (river) or have they come from and area that is not affected by the parasite? We don't know enough and it is becoming increasingly worse every year.
  20. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,795
    Marysville, Washington
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    I first saw this critter in 1974 - it was in Hood Canal and was on the first cutthroat I had ever caught in the Salt. I suspect that it has been around for a long time.

    As with all parasites it is pretty common to see abundances wax and wan due to varying envirnomental conditions. One needs to only look at the common parasitic copepod found on trout in lakes. Over the last 30 years there have been periods when they were quite abundant in the lowland lakes over a wide area and other times where they were much rarer.

    Just based on my observations and reports I have had from various anglers it still my be a good hypothesis that salinity may be an important factor in the abundance of this sea-run parasites. During periods of relatively low freshwater discharge (such as recent years) we may be seeing more parasites closer to the river mouths. Just an idea but it could be tested.

    Tight lines