• cestode attachment;
  • Gymnura zonura ;
  • Hexacanalis ;
  • pathology;
  • ray


A wild-caught specimen of the zonetail butterfly ray, Gymnura zonura (Bleeker), harboured numerous specimens of Hexacanalis folifer Cielocha & Jensen, 2011 (Systematic Parasitology, 79, 1–16; Cestoda: Lecanicephalidea) within its spiral intestine. The cestodes were primarily attached in single rows along the base of mucosal folds, each associated with a nodular mucosal thickening. Microscopically, the scolex was embedded within the submucosa and muscularis; the attachment sites were marked by ulceration and necro-proliferative inflammation demarcating the parasite from normal host tissues. Physical attachment of the cestode was restricted to the anterior portion of its scolex where presumed tegumental secretions from the apical organ contributed to a cementing intermediate layer blending with necrotic host cells. The presence of tegumental differentiation between the apical organ and the scolex proper, associated with presumed different roles in attachment, correlated with ultrastructural observations of the surface modifications on the scolex. Despite the locally severe pathological change, insignificant morbidity owing to this particular host–parasite relationship is suggested.