New host–parasite associations of Cymothoidae (Crustacea, Isopoda) infesting elasmobranch fishes in Tunisian waters
Between 2015 and 2020, 2 092 specimens of cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes: Elasmobranchii) belonging to eight species and five genera were sampled along the Tunisian coast and examined for their cymothoid parasites. Among the eight examined elasmobranch species, only three were infested. Five parasite species were identified: Anilocra physodes, Emetha audouini, Ceratothoa oestroides, C. parallela and Nerocila orbignyi. These parasites presented three maturation stages: ovigerous females of A. physodes and E. audouini, adult non-ovigerous females of N. orbignyi, and juvenile females of C. oestroides and C. parallela. Most of these parasitic isopods were found on a single host species except for the two Ceratothoa species. We report new host–parasite associations, including the presence of A. physodes and E. audouini on smooth-hound Mustelus mustelus, the occurrence of C. oestroides and N. orbignyi on cartilaginous fish species, and the presence of C. parallela on black smooth-hound Mustelus punctulatus and M. mustelus. Parasitological indices and the seasonal variation in prevalence of the collected cymothoids, as well as parasitic species richness, are presented.