Sea Run Parasites 9/13

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.
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.


the Menehune stole my beer
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?


Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
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.
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...

Jim Kerr

Active Member
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.


Sculpin Enterprises
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.

cabezon said:
...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.
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.


Active Member
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

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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.

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