To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Hagfish
From: "Vader Willem Jan Marinus" <>
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:10:57 +0100

        I can't resist adding my hagfish impressions to the most
interesting ones already published on Birding-aus. In Norway, where I have
worked on amphipods almost all my life, Hagfish were a terrible problem ,
when we collected with baited traps: lots of amphipod species are
scavengers, and one can often collect thousands in a simple baited trap
baited with fish. (Fortunately the hagfish do not go further north along
our coast than just south of Tromsö, so these last years, when I worked in
the Arctic, the problem did not occur). If one gets a single hagfish in a
large baited trap, together with thousands of amphipods,  everything comes
out as one large slimeball, and there is nothing to it but discarding the
entire catch. So I have often enough hated the hagfishes!

     On the other hand, my late wife Sunniva Lönining, díd some most
interesting research on Hagfish and their three hearts, so we always had
some in the lab. They are extreme escape artists, and are able to squeeze
through incredibly small holes, much smaller than the circumferences of
the hagfish themselves. Again no doubt their copious (extremely copious!!)
slime production will help them there.

     One last Hagfish story. Our Norwegian national broadcasting
corporation had many years ago one of those mindless competitions, where
the listeners should vote for The National Fish (Our national bird, by the
way, is the Dipper), and everybody there expected it to be a neck to neck
race between the Herring and the Cod. Then the students came into action
and flooded the radio with votes, with the result that the National Fish
of Norway for a short while was the Hagfish. Of course the radio was 'not
amused', and the results were thrown out shortly after.

Wim Vader, Tromsö Museum

9037 Tromsö, Norway

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