Hagfish are Gross!

since i seem to have a strange prediliction for writing about animals, i would like to continue on with probably the ugliest and weirdest creature on God’s green earth… im talkin about the hagfish, people.

hagfish in a knot

hagfish in a knot

ugly hagfish face

ugly hagfish face

  1. the hagfish secretes a small amount of very dense, balled up protein when “grabbed” or startled.  tiny amounts of this protein are secreted through the skin, but can create up to 20 liters of slime nearly instantaneously as it reacts with sea water.  it seems that the balled up proteins are REALLY attracted to water molecules, and once those bad boys get together they make a jello party.  this slime can completely trap the predator attacking the hagfish and suffocate it by clogging its gills… which sets up the next crazy point.
  2. hagfish have learned to escape their own slime by tying themselves into an ordinary overhand knot, and then slipping through their own knot to free themselves.
  3. hagfish also have learned to use their slime for other purposes.  in particular, hagfish are well known in cape cod for ruining fish hauls from trawlers.  hagfish will prey on fish captured in nets, however they dont have jaws or sharp teeth to cut into the tough fish scales.  instead, they have learned to swim into the mouth of captured fish, eating its way out through the entire intestinal tract and finally exiting where… well, where things exit the body.  so sometimes fishermen will pull up a haul with sevearal fish that are nothing but skin and bones.  gross!

    finally, here is a cool video of hagfish slime.  remember, a hagfish can make up to 20 liters of this stuff almost instantaneously! nature is crunk!


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