How Hagfish Use Slime to Suffocate Their Prey

A rather mucilaginous episode of the KQED series Deep Look focuses on the hagfish, an essentially blind, jawless, finless, and scaleless eel-like creature that has survived millions of years by using a torrent of naturally generated slime to suffocate prey for food. This slime grows to an enormous size and can stop even the largest of underwater predators in their respective tracks.

What keeps the boneless, jawless hagfish thriving after more than 300 million years? SLIME. The goop it exudes – a mix of mucus and special protein cells – expands to 10,000 times its original volume in less than half a second, clogging the gills of its competitors and predators, including sharks!

Hagfish Slime

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.