Pacific Hagfish

Eptatretus stoutii

The Slime Eel

The Pacific Hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii) or Slime Eel, is one of about 60 known species of hagfish. Its a very unusual looking creature. It looks less like a fish than a small rubber tube with a mounth on one end. The mouth has small sensory barbels.

The particular hagfish lives in the mesopelagic to the abyssal regions of the Pacific ocean. It is one of the few fishes that lack jaws and it thus thought to be a living remnanat of when fishes first evolved int he Paleozoic Era.

Hagfish Slime

The Pacific Hagfish is known for producing a great deal of slime when disturbed. The slime is a combination of protiens that mix with the salt water to swell and expand into a giant protective layer around the animal. Its believed that this slime is used as an anti-predatory device to keep them from being eaten by would-be-predators.

If placed into a bucket they can actually fill the bucket with slime in a relatively short time. In the wild they are able to free themselves from this slime cocoon by tying themselves into a knot and then sliding the knot down their body until they are no longer coated.

Where do I find hagfish?

Hagfish like the Pacific Hagfish can be found most easily feeding on dead carcases that float down from the surface. An ideal place might be on a dead whale. The hagfish have a unique way of feeding by eating an animal from the inside out.

Interesting Facts:

Hagfish are eaten in Japan and other Asian countries

Another Interesting Hagfish Video:

This video shows hagfish feeding on a dead whale carcass.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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