Truth is stranger than fiction, as the old saying goes. Here’s a perfect example.
A truck carrying 7,500 pounds of hagfish caused a multi-vehicle collision near Depoe Bay, Ore., creating a slimy mess on U.S. Highway 101.
Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported. But it could take years of therapy to erase the mental images for everyone involved.
According to the Oregon State Police, a 1993 Mitsubishi flatbed truck was heading northbound on Highway 101 when it approached a construction zone, where a flagger had stopped traffic. The driver, Salvatore Tragale, was unable to stop the truck.
Tragale’s attempt to abruptly stop the truck caused one of the hagfish containers to fly off the truck bed and into the southbound lane of the highway. The other containers separated from the truck bed and spilled onto the highway, and the flatbed completely separated from the truck’s frame, according to state police.
The hagfish container that flew into the southbound lane triggered a chain-reaction collision involving four vehicles.
Collisions are stressful for everyone involved, including hagfish. When hagfish get stressed, they secrete slime – as evidenced by the many photos of the accident scene and the cleanup.
— Depoe Bay Fire Dist. (@DepoeBayFire) July 13, 2017
Although some people refer to hagfish as slime eels, the Oregon Coast Aquarium notes that they’re not eels at all. However, the aquarium’s website calls them “the creepiest creature in the aquarium.”
“These blind, scale-less, jaw-less fish closely resemble what many scientists believe the first vertebrates looked like,” the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s website explains. “This creature’s primary defense mechanism is to emit a protein that makes the surrounding water turn into a gelatinous slime. They then tie themselves into a knot, sliding the slime off their scale-less skin in the process, making them difficult to capture. Hagfish are so adept at producing this reaction that researchers have observed potential predators dying of suffocation while trapped in their slime.”