Atlantic Hagfish, Myxine glutinosa

Atlantic hagfish, Myxine glutinosa.

The Atlantic hagfish has an elongate body with numerous slime pores, which have earned it the alternate name of "slime eel". It is found in marine waters below 12C, from the Gulf of Mexico along the Atlantic coast to Baffin Island and Greenland. It is identified by its single gill opening, which consists of a pore located in front of the ventral fin fold. This connects to six pairs of internal gill pouches.

The Atlantic hagfish has teeth with numerous cusps, orange teeth on its tongue, and three pairs of barbels attached to its mouth. It is red-brown or blackish-purple along its back, fading to grey-white on its belly. A narrow, light-coloured stripe extends forward from its tail along the midline of its back. These fish grow to 79 cm long, producing 30 large white eggs at any time of the year. Their large, oval-shaped eggs have anchor-like filaments attached to their ends.

This species is a bottom-dweller, living on muddy ocean floors from 20–1006 m deep. It buries its body, and sometimes its head, in the mud. It is active mostly at night, using its sense of smell to locate dead or dying fish and various invertebrates to prey on. If conditions are suitable, many hagfish will assemble in one area. Fishermen dislike the hagfish because it not only eats other fish from their nets, but also coats the nets with slime in the process.

The Atlantic hagfish has a unique body structure which includes several different hearts controlled by diffused pacemakers. When it is wounded, it heals very slowly, but its wounds do not become infected. Researchers take advantage of these characteristics by using this fish to study heart function, immunology, and endocrinology.