February 22, 2007

New species of hagfish found near hydrothermal vent

The newly named hagfish swimming over pillow lava on the East Pacific Rise.

The newly named hagfish swimming over pillow lava on the East Pacific Rise.

While diving near hydrothermal vents on the East Pacific Rise in the human-occupied submarine Alvin, MBARI marine biologist Joe Jones spotted a hagfish swimming along the seafloor. Hagfish are common in some seafloor areas, but rare in this type of environment, so Jones asked Alvin’s pilot to the collect the animal using the submarine’s “slurp gun”. The hagfish turned out to be a new species, which was recently named Eptatretus strickrotti, after Bruce Strickrott, the pilot who captured it. This is the first hagfish ever captured near a hydrothermal site.

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org