MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Hagfish (Myxine glutinosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

The common hagfish Myxine glutinosa is a long, slender, eel-like fish. It is easy recognised by its fin-like fold of skin running continously right around the tail and forward on the lower surface of the body. The hagfish has a single gill pore on either side, just forward of the beginning of the ventral finfold. It has a jawless, lipless mouth that is star-shaped when closed. At the tip of the snout it has a single nasal aperture. There are barbels around the mouth and nasal regions. Myxine glutinosa can vary in colour possibly according to seabed type but is often grayish brown or reddish gray.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded all around Britain and expected off the coasts of Ireland.

Global distribution

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Habitat

The hagfish is a demersal species that can usually be found on muddy bottoms hiding in the mud, potentially down to depths of over 1000 m.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Smooth, slender, eel-like species up to 80 cm in length.
  • Single finfold running around the posterior part of the body.
  • Single gill pore.
  • Lipless star-shaped mouth.
  • Two barbels either side of the mouth and four around the nasal region.

Additional information

Myxine glutinosa is a scavenger feeding mainly on dead fish. It is completely blind and finds its food by its greatly specialized olfactory sense. It has a peculiar habit of pouring out slime, from mucus sacs near the abdomen, in disproportionate quantities to its size (Jørgensen et al., 1998).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  2. Jørgensen, J.M., Lomholt, J.P., Weber, R.E. & Malte, H. (eds.), 1998. The Biology of Hagfishes. London, Chapman & Hall.

  3. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  4. Shelton, R.G.J., 1978. On the feeding of the hagfish Myxine glutinosa in the North Sea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 58, 81-86

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Myxine glutinosa Hagfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/78

Last Updated: 22/05/2008