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The Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii) is a species of hagfish. It lives in the mesopelagic to abyssal Pacific ocean, near the ocean floor. It is a jawless fish, a throwback to the Paleozoic Era when fish evolved. Deep-sea diving equipment is known to have been fouled by large amounts of hagfish slime near the bottom of the ocean, extruded by the eel-like fish when they are alarmed.

The hagfish is notorious for its slimy skin. When disturbed, it oozes proteins from slime glands in its skin that respond to water by becoming a slimy outer coating, expanding it into a huge mass of slime. This makes them very unsavory to predators. Hagfish create large amounts of slime in just minutes. One scientist researching this protein excretion concluded that a single hagfish could fill an entire barrel with slime in less than 100 minutes.[1]

In many parts of the world, including the US, hagfish-skin clothing, belts, or other accessories are advertised and sold as "yuppie leather" or "eel-skin"[2] (hagfish are not true eels, which are bony fish with jaws).

The hagfish is eaten in Korea and other Asian countries, along with its eggs and its slime. The section of the fishing industry devoted to hagfish-fishing has grown in recent years.

The hagfish has feelers that enable it to find food more easily. It is an opportunistic feeder, and eats dead and rotting animals that float down from the pelagic zone of the ocean. Swarms of hagfish will descend upon and penetrate the carcass and devour it from the inside out. This mode of marine waste disposal allows the hagfish to efficiently gain nutrients. The resultant rarity of rotting animals on the sea floor is one of the factors that modulates global cycles of phosphorus, carbon and nitrogen.

This fish is often referred to as the "slime eel". This is an incorrect common name / nickname.

From Wikipedia 2013

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Supplier: Dana Campbell

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