ABSTRACT

Anisakid nematodes have a worldwide distribution and are associated with fishes, birds, and marine mammals from freshwater, brackish, and marine systems. The aims of this work are to report for the first time Contracaecum mirounga parasitizing the Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, to report another Contracaecum species in the same host species, and to discuss the validity of Contracaeceum spheniscus. Several dead chicks, juveniles, and adults of S. magellanicus were collected along the Argentinean coast from 2002 to 2009. Nematodes were removed from digestive tracts and studied using both light and scanning electron microscopy. Nematode prevalences were 2.38% for C. mirounga and 12.5% for Contracaecum sp. Contracaecum mirounga was found in 1 penguin from Península Valdés, Chubut. This species is known as a specific parasite of marine mammals such as Pinnipedia, thereby suggesting that this nematode is not as specific as believed. Another species of Contracaecum sp. was found parasitizing 1 penguin from the Río de la Plata coast. It possessed an unusual interlabial morphology and arrangement of male caudal papillae. Despite the low prevalence, the distinct morphological features are convincing and support the presence of a new Contracaecum species. However, a formal description is not presented because sufficient male specimens are lacking. Finally, C. spheniscus is considered a junior synonym of Contracaecum pelagicum. Future molecular studies might be helpful to determine the real diversity of Contracaecum species parasitizing S. magellanicus considering the number of sibling species recognized among the anisakids.

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