Hagfish live up to their name. Resembling huge earthworms, they are brown, boneless, slimy and typically 13” long.
Homely as they are, hagfish have nonetheless snagged the attention of both Atlantic and Pacific fishermen, given the growing international market – particularly in Asia.
To assist B.C. fishermen, LFS student J.P. Hastey is studying how Pacific hagfish are impacted by capture in a commercial fi shery, focusing on their temperature and salinity tolerances. There have been few studies on hagfi sh ecology and general biology due to their inaccessibility and historically low commercial value.
Hagfish are found at depths of up to 1,000 feet beneath the ocean surface. Blind, they defend themselves by oozing slime that can swell up many times their weight in water to form a protective casing.
“B.C. fishermen want to understand more in order to develop and manage a sustainable fishery,” says Hastey, an Animal Studies Masters candidate who aims to complete his thesis by spring 2010.