Typically, a hagfish will release less than a teaspoon of gunk from the 100 or so slime glands that line its flanks. And in less than half a second, that little amount will expand by 10,000 times—enough to fill a sizable bucket. Reach in, and every move of your hand will drag the water with it. “It doesn’t feel like much at first, as if a spider has built a web underwater,” says Douglas Fudge of Chapman University. But try to lift your hand out, and it’s as if the bucket’s contents are now attached to you.

    . . .

    The slime also “has a very strange sensation of not quite being there,” says Fudge. It consists of two main components—mucus and protein threads. The threads spread out and entangle one another, creating a fast-expanding net that traps both mucus and water. Astonishingly, to create a liter of slime, a hagfish has to release only 40 milligrams of mucus and protein—1,000 times less dry material than human saliva contains. That’s why the slime, though strong and elastic enough to coat a hand, feels so incorporeal.


So if you want to fish for lobster commercially in California, you can expect to pay about $100-150k for the permit. They're damn near hereditary. Also, about that lucrative. I've heard of fishermen sitting on one or two of them (in addition to their own) to keep them out of the hands of competitors. Yeah. It's worth a couple hundred thousand dollars to reduce the number of people competing for your catch.

If you want to fish for hagfish commercially in California, you can expect to pay $140 a year. Nobody wants them. Thus, a friend of mine determined that he was going to make his fortune trapping hagfish for export to Japan and Korea. That whole "live catch" thing is nice an'all but hagfish are a bitch to ship. Far better to freeze them immediately and launch 'em via container where they're converted to "eelskin leather."

The price differential between lobster and hagfish is a factor of a thousand because nobody wants to fish for hagfish. The slime, I hear, is completely unreal. And lobsters are no walk in the park.

My buddy gave up after a season.

posted 365 days ago