Angel wings are planktivores, consuming the tiny organisms that get caught in the sticky coating covering their trailing tendrils. They are generally not a danger to humans, but bear mention in this report for a troublesome aspect of their reproductive biology.
During their year-round breeding cycles, angel wings produce small, sticky egg clusters on the distal ends of their tentacles. When these tendrils come in accidental contact with another organism, the tendril tips and their egg clusters break off, hitching a ride on the passing creature. The eggs shortly hatch and the angel wing larvae burrow into the skin of the host. There they reside for several days, growing only slightly, but collecting vital organic compounds from the host that adult angel wings are apparently unable to provide. When suf ficient quantities of these compounds are collected, the tiny larvae squirm out from the host's tissues and become free-living plankton.
Angel wings represent a potentially serious threat to human hosts, but one that is easily dealt with if the infestation is caught in time. Angel wing larvae infest humans in the same way they infect indigenous animals. The compounds they seek, however, are apparently absent from the human biochemical makeup. When not supplied with the nutrient, angel wing larvae fail to emerge, and after approximately a week they die. The necrotic parasites can subsequently cause a number of complications including fast fungus (MG 168) infections, gangrene, and various other toxicity syndromes.
Virtually every native on Poseidon has been infected with angel wing larvae at some point in their lives, and many have been infected more than once. Consequently, the cure is well known across the archipelago, at least in areas with a high native population. Though unpleasant, the cure is simple and completely effective. The infected individual must coat the infested region of skin, marked by an irritating rash, with a paste of freshly ground fish meat. Any species will do, as the indigenous flesh apparently provides the larvae with the mystery nutrient they seek. The fish paste poultice must be replaced every few hours, but after three or four days the larvae crawl out, the rash disappears, and the host is parasite-free.
Tropical and semi-tropical waters planet wide
10 to 18 centimeters
15 to 25 grams
BLUE PLANET: NATURAL SELECTION
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