In honour of possibly the best celebration of the year (candy, costumes, ghosts, um… awesome) I have decided to blog about the scariest, creepiest, most terrifying, most horrifying, ugliest creature at the Vancouver Aquarium. In order to find out just which animal is most deserving of this title, I polled the interpreters who spend so much time in the galleries.
The email replies came back fast and furious, and the definitive winner was… the Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii). I was actually surprised by how quickly everyone was willing to throw this eel-like fish under the bus.
One interpreter says, “While they are super important for the environment by decomposing dead animals, like whales, they do it in the creepiest way… by burrowing in and eating the dead animal from the inside out. Also, the most gag-ifying thing about them is the sheer amount of slime they can produce for protection. SO GROSS.”
This slimy mucus creates a cocoon that likely protects them from predatory attacks, and might even suffocate a predator.
Another interpreter says that not having a face is enough for her to nominate this animal (I agree, not having a face is definitely creepy).
Still another one says, “Pacific hagfish, for sure! First of all, the name conjures up witches and ‘hags.’ Secondly, it has the most disgusting way of eating its prey. It’s worse than a zombie!”
But this interpreter also adds, “It’s one of my favourites, and one of the most overlooked animals at the Aquarium.” See it for yourself in the Treasures of the BC Coast gallery.
Can’t stomach the Pacific hagfish? For Halloween, our staff divers are dressing up in costume for the daily interpretive dive show in the Strait of Georgia exhibit (11:30 a.m. from October 27-31).
But back to creepy crawlies – let’s open it up now to the animals of the world. Which animal do you think is the “scariest” and why?
Karen Horak is a writer-editor in the content and digital experience department at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Watch this Pacific hagfish make slime in the video below: