Host specificity evidently is not expressed by various species of Diphyllobothrium that occur typically in marine mammals, and people become infected occasionally when dietary customs favor ingestion of plerocercoids. This report mainly concerns 2 species, Diphyllobothrium pacificum and Diphyllobothrium arctocephalinum, for which sea lions (Otariidae) are final hosts. The taxonomic status of those cestodes has not been clearly discernible because of misinterpretation of relationships; complex synonymies have resulted from misidentification(s). Stiles and Hassall in 1899 obtained, but did not describe, cestodes from the northern fur seal (Otariidae; Pribilof Islands). That taxon was subsequently studied by several investigators, with diverse conclusions. The valid designation is D. pacificum (Nybelin, 1931). In 1937, Johnston and Drummond described separately 2 conspecific cestodes from sea lions near Australia, designated D. arctocephalinum and Diphyllobothrium arctocephali. Both names have been listed incorrectly as synonyms of D. pacificum.

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