Finding the Beauty in Ugly

On the 3rd Wednesday of October the world celebrates "Hagfish Day" a day where we celebrate the beauty of ugly. Not everything in the natural world is considered beautiful, however everything does have a purpose and part to play. Hagfish are the perfect example of this as these deep-sea scavengers ooze buckets of slime but they play an important role in their ecosystem.

What is a Hagfish?

The hagfish is a rather unpleasant looking fish that lives deep in the ocean and can be found at depths of 5,600 ft. They are considered by many as the most disgusting creature in the world, largely due to their incredible ability to produce a large amounts of slime to ward off predators.

Despite their rather grotesque, slimy appearance the hagfish are a vital part of the ecosystem on the ocean floor. The hagfish helps to clean and recycle dead animals from the seafloor. They also serve as a food source for fish, seabirds and seals—at least those that can make it through the suffocating slime.

Some interesting facts about hagfish:

  • Hagfish are completely boneless, they have a skull which is made from cartilage but no vertebrae. Though they don't have a jaw they do have two rows of tooth-like structures made from keratin that they use to burrow deep into carcasses.

  • Despite being called a fish they don't have any scales but do have very soft pinkish/ grey skin that is a little loose looking. They also have 4 hearts!

  • To prevent themselves from choking on their slime they 'sneeze' it out of their nose! And to scrap it off the hagfish will tie a knot in their body and slide it from head to tail to scrap the slime off.

  • Hagfish actually breathe through both their nose and their skin. With a great network of capillaries in their skin they are able to breathe even when covered in mud. They are also able to absorb nutrients directly through their skin! 

  • The common fact you'll see floating round the internet is that the hagfish will produce so much slime that they can fill a 5-gallon bucket with the stuff in mere minutes!

How you can celebrate Hagfish Day

The creators of hagfish day, WhaleTimes, have a few fun ways for your to celebrate today, from creating a bouquet of the least attractive flowers you can find, to writing haikus to all things icky and ugly. 

Head over to their website to find out more!

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