Pelicans and Neascus

Interesting enough, this pelican and sunfish have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship, well maybe not just the two of them alone, but add a third entity called Neascus, also known as Black Spot Disease and this is what relies on the others to keep its own life cycle going.

Eggs are released by fish-eating birds into the water. Eggs develop into intermediate stages of the parasite in snails. These free-swimming parasites penetrate the muscles of fish and encyst. Black pigmentation is deposited onto these cysts. Infected fish are consumed by birds where the life cycle starts all over again. Adult worms are seen in fish-eating birds.

Is it safe to eat? Of course it is. This is very common throughout Minnesota. Just make sure you cook your fish well.

Another interesting fact about this pelican I photographed today, you will notice a raised bump on the beak – apparently both males and females get these bumps during the breeding season and shed them later on. Despite what some people might think or have heard, it has absolutely nothing to do with how they catch fish or feed. I guess it just shows other pelicans that they are interested in breeding.

Hey there pretty lady, nice lump you have on your nose.

Also see Minnesota DNR

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