Back during my deep-sea fishing days, we’d sometimes catch these terribly ugly fish called hagfish. In addition to their rather repulsive movement, coloring and features, they were also covered in a horribly sticky slime.
When you picked them up and then let them go, there would be a web of thousands of strands of the stuff still stuck between you and the hagfish.
Hagfish slime has a very important function; protection – it seems sharks and other predators find it pretty repulsive too.
I’ve seen all manner of deep sea life, but hagfish I reckon would be one of the grossest. The following is an image of a hagfish on a really, really good day.
However, just because a fish isn’t cute, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an important role in the ecosystem, nor should it be wiped from the face of the earth – and some can even be useful to us.
It seems that hagfish slime, or “snot” could form the basis of textiles. The threads “are sort of like silk” in their mechanical properties. Associate Professor Dr Douglas Fudge from Canada’s University of Guelph and his team are currently using hagfish slime threads as a new alternative model to spider silk.
Hagfish snot jeans? Hmm.. not quite.
Because of the type of habitat hagfish live in; very dark and extreme pressure, it’s not going to be possible to farm them – so the boffins are trying to synthesize hagfish ‘snot’ to create environmentally friendly fabrics.
Even in our high-tech society, nature’s plants and creatures have so much to teach us. It’s a great shame so many are going extinct before we learn their secrets.
Just on spider-silk – that is incredible stuff and beautiful textiles can be made with it; clothing fit for royalty. You can view an example pic in my article, Amazing Spider Silk.