On July 14, the Oregon Department of Transportation had to deal with one of the most bizarre traffic jams known to man. After a truck got wrecked along the Oregon highway, the road became absolutely covered in slime. What exactly was the truck driver carrying to create such as mess?
The culprits of the slime were hagfish. These deep sea creatures are capable of excreting large amounts of mucus when stressed or fighting off predators. The hagfish tanks may have already been covered in slime before the accident, but flying through the air and hitting cars or the pavement, would have also triggered a mucous response. Douglas Fudge, a biomaterials researcher at Chapman University in California, says that hagfish use their slime as a way to defend themselves from predatory fish. Their slime can clog and stick to fish gills, so predators tend to stay away.
According to the National Geographic, these hagfish were likely being shipped off to Asia where they’re considered a delicacy. Along the Pacific Northwest there are several hagfish fisheries that supply Asian countries, such as South Korea, with this highly regarded fish. And despite the slimy disasters they can create, they continue to be exported to the other side of the Pacific and eaten with pride.