The Hagfish is not a species that a lot of people are all that familiar with. Because of this when most people see them for the first time they are certain that the creature is either a snake or an eel, but it is neither. The Hagfish is indeed a fish; it just does not look much like the other fish that we come across. What makes this marine fish stand out is the fact that it does have a body like an eel or a snake and this is due to the fact that the animals have a skull but they do not have vertebrae. As you can imagine that makes the fish a bit confusing to look at. Even many scientists believe that this is the most disgusting and odd of all of the species of sea creatures.
The Hagfish is often referred to as a slime eel, but it is important to remember that they are not eels at all. These fish are usually about 18 inches long and they have long eel like bodies and tails that resemble a paddle. The color of the fish range from pink to blue and they often have black or white spots on them as well. The species often have no true eyes and they do not have any fins or jaws. Instead, they have six barbs around the mouth area as well as a single nostril. In addition, they have a pair of horizontal jaw type structures that have keratin based projections that are used for pulling at food. After this description you have probably conjured up an amazing looking fish in your mind’s eye. But, if you look at a real photo you may not have done this creature justice!
The Hagfish is known to have been found in just about every ocean except the North Atlantic. These fish are usually found in cold water and have been found in water as deep as 4,000 feet. They often spend their time buried in burrows on the soft bottom of the ocean.
The Hagfish is known to feed off of the insides of other fish, both living and dead. What the species does is enter the fish and literally start feeding off of it. The Hagfish simply enters the other fish through the mouth, the gills, or the anus and when they are done eating their prey they simply exit the carcass. Interestingly enough, the species can go for months without eating. Fishermen often despise these fish because they are known to be in the fish that are caught and they consume the catch before the fishermen can even get their catch to the boat.
The interesting thing about the Hagfish is that it is not successfully preyed upon by many other species because when it is handled it secretes really sticky slime that does away with the ability of the predator to hold onto the fish or consume it. It is this slime system combined with the overall appearance of the Hagfish that has many scientists referring to it as disgusting.