Slime eels destined for South Korea explode in bizarre traffic accident
No, this isn’t a car wreck caused by Slimer, or covered in ectoplasm. This is a real traffic accident from Oregon today, where at least one car is indeed covered in slime, creating one of the most bizarre traffic jams caught on camera. A truck carrying thousands of fish hit an incoming car, causing a major traffic jam. What soon transpired looked like something out a horror or sci-fi movie.
The culprit? Hagfish, deep-sea scavengers that look a bit like eels and are capable of generating massive amounts of anti-predator mucus at a moment’s notice. The Pacific Northwest is home to several hagfish fisheries that supply the fish to many Asian countries, including South Korea, where it is a prized dish.
Oh, and I’ve had hagfish and it’s delicious, especially grilled up with gochujang and spices! The slime that hagfish excrete is not actually slime, but more like a gel full of filaments. Oh, yeah, that sounds so much better.
Hagfish, aside from it being an Asian delicacy, are quite remarkable creatures. But, why do hagfish spew such slime? It boils down to Darwinism. More from National Geographic:
“The slime is a fiendishly effective means of defending themselves against predatory attacks by fishes,” says Douglas Fudge, a biomaterials researcher at Chapman University in California.
“The slime sets up very quickly and is incredibly good at sticking to and clogging gills, so fish typically abort their attacks on hagfishes because they can’t deal with the slime.”
Dude, that’s awesome. But why would hagfish discharge so much “slime” during this accident? Well, scientists say that they also release this mucus when stressed. Poor hagfish (and poor Prius)! That’s going to be one nasty and expensive auto-detailing job.
To read up more on this story and the wonders of hagfish, head over to National Geographic: ’Slime Eels’ Explode on Highway After Bizarre Traffic Accident