The Deep Dive Blog /

Happy National Hagfish Day!

By: Nicole Forsgren

Hagfish are the most primitive and basic vertebrates, both extinct or living. They are incredibly important for the survival of the ocean floor by cycling nutrients and carbon. In addition, they serve as scavengers in the food chain and can survive for months off of one sufficient meal.

The hagfish is one of the few species that have likely maintained the same body structure and shape as its oldest ancestor. There is only one known hagfish fossil that lived approximately 300 million years ago. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the body style that the hagfish exhibits could still survive in the oceans today.

Recently, the commercial fishing of hagfish has rapidly increased thanks to the desirability of their skin and slime. In its natural habitat, hagfish slime is produced in order to ward off predators. The production of this slime has been a breakthrough for scientists everywhere since its strength has been compared to nylon. With their increased profitability, 12% of hagfish species are now considered to be at risk of extinction. Be a considerate consumer to help ensure their survival!

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