The third Wednesday of October is Hagfish Day, created by Whaletimes.org to celebrate the beauty of ugly. According to WhaleTimes Director Ruth Musgrave, “Sometimes it seems as if ecological causes are popularity contests that exclude the less attractive and less well-known, though equally vulnerable, creatures. There are species in peril that kids never hear about.”
So today, 19 October 2011, is Hagfish Day. Hagfish are the perfect poster-creatures for the holiday – they are boneless, scaleless and jawless deep-sea eel-like beings that ooze slime as a defense mechanism. It’s incredibly repulsive to predators. Of course, this smothering slime is also tough for the hagfish – if they don’t tied themselves in a knot to scrape the slime off, they can suffocate themselves.
Fact: a 20 inch hagfish can fill a 2 gallon bucket with slime in just minutes.
Hagfish are an important part of the world’s ecosystem; not only are they a food source for the likes of dolphins, sea lions, seals, porpoises, octopi and people, but they are also scavengers – cleaning the ocean floor of dead and dying fish and animals.
You of the faint of heart, skip this part: the hagfish enters the body of its prey and eats it from the inside out. It licks and scrapes off the flesh and organs with its tooth-covered tongue. When it’s finished, it leaves a skin sack filled with bones.
Disgusting. Amazing. Oddly beautiful. Oh, you disagree? Then put down those eelskin boots, because hagfish is the real “eel” used in eelskin products.
But it is not just the hagfish we should celebrate on Hagfish Day. Let us extol the virtues of the Blobfish,
the Sea Wolf,
the Sea Pig,
and the Galapagos Batfish, to name a few.
Celebrate the creatures, my dears. They deserve the accolades of a holiday. Baby seals and agile dolphins get so much of our attention, but they need these beautifully ugly creatures as much as we do.