Hagfish At Home
Hello, out there. We are three students from Surrey, BC who are attending a Youth Forum at Bamfield, BC. During our stay here, we discovered a fascinating substance: HAGFISH SLIME.

The hagfish is a primitive fish that lives in deep water close to the ocean floor near land. Their appearance is similar to that of a lamprey, they are long, slim, and a pinky grey colour. When sufficiently scared, they secrete small packets of sugar and protein into the seawater. The sugar has an affinity for water and turns the entire mix into a mass of gooey slime. Protein strands form in the slime, and give the slime mass its strength and elasticity.

Being the curious and ... interesting... students that we are, we began to ponder the potential uses of this incredible substance. One of the uses that we came up with was using the slime as an egg substitute in baking, as the composition of the slime is mainly protein and water.

Jackie having a lot of fun with some hagfish slime.
To test this theory, we decided to try a cooking experiment comparing scones made with ordinary chicken eggs to scones made with hagfish slime.

To start, we prepared a basic scone mix and created two seperate portions with everything included except the eggs and slime. Then, we mixed the hagfish slime (about one egg's worth) into one of the portions of the scone mix, using our hands, and we did the same with the egg and the other portion of scone mix. The egg and the slime did not have enough moisture on their own, so we added some water to each of the mixtures. We rolled both portions into balls measuring about 3.5 cm in diameter, slightly less than the size of the palms of our hands. We placed them on an ungreased pan and put them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for about ten minutes, then we checked on them. They weren't done, so we left them in for another 2.5 minutes, at which point they were finished. Of the two people immediately asked which scone was made with which, they each correctly guessed which ones were made with slime. We theorized that this could be attributed to the fact that the hagfish scones were kneaded more and had more water in them. We also offered a scone to Mike, a Marine Station employee, and he decided that "it was great" and that "it was not icky [sic] at all." He also mentioned that he "could feel the slime pumping through his veins" and that he felt "rejuvenated". Personally, none of us could taste a negative difference, and in fact we agreed that the ones made with hagfish slime tasted better!!

Other suggested uses for the slime of the hagfish are; as a substitute for eggs in other situations, as the colligative agent in raw hamburgers (perhaps Spam?), as an emulsifier or a thickening agent in other cooking, or perhaps in eggnog. There might also be a future for hagfish slime as a flycatcher due to its sticky properties, or as a prop in theatre and film industries requiring slime (ex. Ghostbusters, There's Something About Mary, Alien series).

In conclusion, we have found that hagfish slime has great possibilities: it is an untapped and marvellous resource. Its many potential uses could help the hagfish rise above its slimy reputation (pardon the pun) and move onwards to greatness!!!

Thank you.

-- David Yuen, Lindi Smith, Daniel Tiedemann (stik_twig@hotmail.com)