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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Pacific Hagfish Eptatretus stoutii

The Pacific hagfish is similar to the hagfish found in the Atlantic. It is usually a brownish red color and may have a blue or purple sheen. It has no true fins, only a dorsal finfold that continues around the tail but that has little function in swimming. The Pacific hagfish lives in soft mud and feeds mainly on carrion. It causes great damage to fish caught in static nets and will enter large fish through either the mouth or the anus and proceed to eat them from the inside out, consuming their guts and muscles.

Pacific Hagfishzoom image
  • Class Myxini
  • Length Up to 20 in (50 cm)
  • Weight Up to 3 lb (1.4 kg)
  • Depth 65–2,100 ft (20–650 m)
  • Distribution Coastal and shelf waters of northeastern Pacific