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It Appears a Truckload of ‘Slime Eels’ Has Exploded Onto an Oregon Highway

Come claim your hagfish.

by Sarah Emerson
Jul 13 2017, 10:05pm

Twitter: Oregon State Police

Oregon's Highway 101 is a rubbernecker's paradise right now because, yep, that's a car covered in slime, friends!

This afternoon, Oregon State Police tweeted photos of a crumpled sedan absolutely drenched in what appears to be hagfish mucus. You know, just a normal thing that happens sometimes in the Pacific Northwest and not, like, Ghostbusters or whatever.

Multiple zoologists on Twitter have identified the animals as hagfish, a type of marine fish that produces prolific amounts of goo when stressed, though police haven't confirmed this for certain.


Officials offered frustratingly few details about the crash, but it seems like a truck carrying the animals, and not a trench-coat full of hagfish driving the car, overturned and collided with another vehicle.

The truck's payload, which was destined for South Korea, according to police, gushed out all over the car and roadside. It's unclear if anyone was hurt. Police are cracking jokes on Twitter, though, so maybe that's a good sign.

Hundreds of hagfish are squirming around the freeway, trapped in a web of their own slime. I feel bad for them. Police allege they were intended "for consumption," but since hagfish can't survive for long out of water, it's possible they'll die.

It's not illegal to export wild-caught Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii), which are found in the Eastern North Pacific, Canada, and Mexico.

Also called "slime eels," these animals aren't dangerous to humans.

A hagfish's defense mechanism is literally sliming its enemies with heaps—up to five and a quarter gallons—of super sticky mucus that expands in seawater. Since hagfish don't have a vertebral column, they can tie their own bodies in a knot when grabbed, leaving their foes empty-handed (not counting the goo, of course).

Researchers are investigating whether hagfish slime, which is surprisingly strong, can be used to improve garments like bullet-proof vests.

Oregon State Police haven't said what's to become of the stranded hagfish. Maybe a good Samaritan will swoop in, buckets in hand. I'm rooting for them!

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