A truck carrying a bunch of slime eels lately crashed on the freeway in Oregon, releasing a mind-boggling quantity of slime and forcing the freeway to shut.
The slithery creatures fell off a truck on Freeway 101 in Oregon yesterday (July 13), inflicting a five-car crash, coating close by vehicles in a Ghostbusters’-worthy quantity of slime, and sending the spooked creatures slithering throughout the highway, Oregon Stay reported.
However what precisely are these creatures, and why on Earth do they produce a lot slime?
It seems that the creatures aren’t actually eels in any respect, however are hagfish, or primitive, bottom-dwelling fish that use their slime to fend off predators, a number of consultants mentioned. [Photos: The Freakiest Looking Fish]
The slime eels, or Pacific hagfish, had been collected from the Newport Bayfront on Oregon’s coast and had been in containers on a truck that overturned, mentioned Cari Boyd, a lieutenant for the Newport Space Command of the Oregon State Police. Their final vacation spot was apparently South Korea, the place they’re thought-about a delicacy, Boyd mentioned.
Nonetheless, when the driving force of the truck stumbled on highway constructions, he wasn’t in a position to cease in time and overturned, and the crates of seven,500 kilos (three,400 kilograms) of hagfish went flying off the truck. After the incident, freeway staff needed to shut the roadway to scrub off the sticky goo.
OSP @OregonDOT & @LincolnCountySO on scene overturned #Slime #Eel truck Hwy101 MP131 closed. #Cleanup on Aisle 101 pic.twitter.com/Z9s9XbQ247
— Oregon State Police (@ORStatePolice) July 13, 2017
The creatures in query are a species of jawless fish which have seen the rise and fall of the dinosaurs and have modified little or no within the final 300 million years, mentioned William O’Connor, a biologist with Ecofact Environmental Consultants Ltd. in Eire, who’s an knowledgeable on eels. The eely-looking creatures belong to the group Agnatha and are much like lampreys, O’Connor added.
Whereas they will not be essentially the most photogenic of creatures, the scavenging bottom-dwellers play an vital function within the ecosystem, recycling vitamins and serving as prey, O’Connor mentioned. They don’t seem to be endangered, however their numbers have dropped, because of overfishing for meals and leather-based (known as eel pores and skin), mentioned Douglas Fudge, a comparative biologist and hagfish knowledgeable at Chapman College in California. [Extreme Life on Earth: 8 Bizarre Creatures]
They produce slime to clog the gills of would-be predator fish, O’Connor mentioned.
“They’re present in deep water with gentle substrates and often bury themselves away to cover from predators so often do not have to do that [produce slime],” O’Connor instructed Stay Science. “Ending up on a freeway is a unique matter, in fact.”
Huge cleanup job
The unceremonious ejection from the truck probably triggered their slime-a-thon.
“They often make the slime as a protection towards predators, however in addition they do it when they’re wired, and being dumped onto a freeway counts as stress for a hagfish,” Fudge instructed Stay Science.
The slime itself is constructed from glands that run alongside the size of the hagfish physique. The slime is made up of a mixture of mucus (mucin) and protein fibers that act like tiny threads. The threads uncoil, whereas the mucin absorbs water, making a 3D community that turns into 10,000 instances larger than its preliminary quantity, Ryan Kincer, a supplies engineer with the U.S. Navy, beforehand instructed Stay Science.
Due to its weird properties, hagfish slime has been studied extensively for potential functions within the army, drugs and clothes, O’Connor mentioned. The Navy has even thought-about mimicking hagfish slime to guard warships from bullets, battle fires and even fend off sharks, in keeping with a press release from the U.S. Navy.
The slime itself has been utilized by the native Maori in New Zealand as a cleansing agent, O’Connor mentioned. Hagfish clear themselves by twisting their our bodies right into a knot and wringing themselves out, O’Connor mentioned.
In Oregon, officers cleaned the eel goo off the highway utilizing high-pressure hoses and bizarre water, Boyd mentioned. Whereas the slime itself doesn’t dissolve in water, because of the silk threads, the stress probably pushed the slime off the highway right into a ditch, Chapman mentioned.
Initially printed on Stay Science.