Today is officially Hagfish Day – the annual celebration set up by the marine enthusiasts at WhaleTimes to celebrate ‘the beauty of the ugly’.
And the Hagfish is certainly ugly. Looking like a 50in (127cm) long pink-grey tongue, this eyeless invertebrate can tie itself in a knot, run the knot down its body and secrete mucus by the bucketful (hence its nickname, Slime Eel). It can suffocate fish with its slime and enters larger prey through the gills. Interestingly, Hagfish slime can be used as a substitute for egg whites.
Next year Adlard Coles will publish HOW TO SNOG A HAGFISH! Disgusting Things in the Sea by Jonathan Eyers. The book explores the most bizarre, the most disgusting and the most fascinating creatures that inhabit the oceans. As well as the Hagfish, the book features fish that eat birds, sharks that eat reindeer and eels that eat corpses as well as crabs the size of dogs and giant squid with eyes the size of beachballs.
Suitable for all the family (though maybe not the really squeamish), HOW TO SNOG A HAGFISH! is published in the UK (£7.99) in January 2012 and the US ($11.95) in March 2012.
You can read more about Hagfish Day at the WhaleTimes website here: WhaleTimes.org.