The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge intrigued its Facebook followers with a peculiar video captured in the Galveston area as part of their engaging series, "What is it Wednesday?" The footage showcased a mysterious, slimy creature which left viewers curious and, for some, repulsed.
Many commenters took a guess, and the consensus soon emerged. It was a leech.
These unique leeches have a distinctive lifestyle – they remain firmly attached to turtles throughout their entire life cycle, sometimes posing a risk to the host due to excessive blood loss during heavy infestations.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department further explained that fish leeches, in contrast, are temporary parasites, typically detaching after a meal or two. They often seek refuge among seagrasses or rocks, occasionally latching onto crustaceans before their next feast. Some even abandon their hosts only to lay eggs, quickly seeking another victim. While some fish leeches exhibit host specificity, others are less discerning, attaching to various fish species.
The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, nestled near Galveston and Trinity Bays, has been protecting the coastal marsh since its establishment in 1963. Its mission revolves around providing vital wintering and migration grounds for ducks, geese, shorebirds, and waterbirds. Through its dedicated efforts, the refuge remains a sanctuary for both migratory and resident avian species, ensuring the preservation of this crucial ecosystem.