A Snapshot of Parasite Occurrence in Yellow Tail Snappers (Ocyurus chrysurus) in South Water Caye Marine Reserve
Yellow Tail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) is one of the most consumed fishes in the country of Belize. To prevent its population from becoming threatened, as seen for other snappers in the area, it is important to keep track of its abundance and health. An ongoing monitoring system needs to be set up as part of a strategy to manage fish populations. This system should include investigating parasites of this fish. Uncontrolled parasite proliferation can be detrimental to both the host and the environment. There are no updated studies regarding the identity and prevalence of parasites of this fish in Belizean waters. This study aims to contribute to the creation of a body of data that documents the identity, types, and abundance of parasites of Yellow Tail Snappers found in Belize. In order to assess the current situation of parasites on Yellow Tail Snappers, a quantitative analysis of ectoparasites and endoparasites on the body of forty O. chrysurus individuals was conducted within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Belize. The specimens were collected from a local fisher and examined both internally and externally. Organs were removed from each individual, and their tissues were examined for the presence of observable parasites. The results showed a relatively healthy population of fishes, with 75% of the fishes having at least one observed parasite. The most abundant parasite was Cymothoa exigua found in the oral cavity of 50% of the samples. Isopods were also found in the gills, and digeneans and other helminths were found in the stomach and gut of many samples. Statistical analysis was done on the forty fish obtained from four sites (ten individuals from each site) from the Reserve. The results suggested that there was no correlation among the sites and the overall incidence of parasites was low. Together, the 4 sites can potentially represent the abundance of macroscopic parasites in O. chrysurus found in the General Use Zone of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve.
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