The hagfish is a bottom feeder so repulsive it had a cameo on TV’s “Fear Factor.” It slimes its enemies, has rows of teeth on its tongue, and feeds on the innards of rotting fish by penetrating any orifice. But cooked and served on a plate, it is considered an aphrodisiac in South Korea.
So how repulsive is it?
The 14- to 18-inch hagfish looks like an eel. In fact, there is debate over whether it is really a fish. The 300 million-year-old creature has no jaws and one nostril. Essentially blind, it dwells in the dark more than 1,000 feet down.
“The average person would be disgusted just by looking at them,” said Mark Crossland, a state Fish and Game warden. “The product is difficult to deal with and handle – it’s a little eel that once it gets stressed it excretes this slime.”
In mass quantities:
As if its looks weren’t enough of a turnoff, hagfish, when agitated, vomit and secrete a protein that reacts with seawater to create a thick mucus.
A single animal can turn a five-gallon bucket of seawater into a pool of goo in a matter of moments, said Eddie Kisfaludy of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. While the slime distracts predators, it also occasionally suffocates the hagfish.
And they use this as an aphrodisiac.
Makes me shrivel up. Gah.