A rare find…

WhaleTimes Board Member Tamara Frank, PhD from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (Dania Beach, Florida) is out to sea and sharing her adventure with us.

A hurricane off the Atlantic coast has created some rough weather, but the science team aboard the NOAA RV Pisces has still had some success. The cruise is the deepwater biodiversity cruise off the Bear Seamount.

Paper nautilus shell brought up from deep

Paper nautilus shell brought up from deep

As they study populations in the deep, one of the trawls brought up a rarely seen paper nautilus with the shell in still intact. Beautiful! Little is known about this delicate cephalopod.

Thanks Tammy for sharing the photos.

more to come…

Celebrate Hagfish Day with bouquet of hagfish and more…

Hello Hagfish Day Fans!

We apologize for the paucity of Hagfish Day fun, animals and activities. As you may have read (if you went to the bottom of the first page) WhaleTimes was hacked at the end of September.

Since we had already planned to rebuild the site early next year, to celebrate our 20th anniversary (yea!), we chose to find the silver lining and decided to start rebuilding now.

At any rate, we still want you to celebrate the ‘beauty of ugly’ so here are some fun activities You must try making your own hagfish slime or perhaps make a gorgeous Hagfish Day Bouquet for a friend or even write a Hagfish Haiku, or make a Slime Time Crown and become Hagfish Day Royalty


enGrossed in Slime or It’s Not Funny Activity 
Slime Time Crown
Write Hagfish Haikus
Make a Hagfish Cootie Catcher (aka Fortune Tellers) and don’t forget to… Say it with a Hagfish Bouquet

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Douglas S. Fudge and Hagfish Slime

CopyrightWhaleTimesItsSlimeTimeBanner SM

Hagfish hanging out.

Hagfish hanging out.

Hi Hagfish Day Fans,
I shared a few of your questions with Douglas S. Fudge, a fascinating biologist with the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada. Dr. Fudge was kind enough to help us understand and appreciate this incredible fish.
Dr. Fudge, what was your first thought when you heard that hagfish finally got their own holiday? What took so long?
What should kids should about hagfish? Where to begin? That they can tie themselves in knots. That they can pass their body through a knot to wipe slime off. That they can use knot-tying to gain leverage when feeding on carcasses. That they can be bitten by a shark and not be injured. That they can burrow into a rotting whale carcass to feed and not worry about the lack of oxygen in there. That they are supremely good at detecting dead things that fall to the ocean floor. That they have multiple hearts. That they can go months at a time without feeding. I could go on
What is the most amazing thing about hagfish? Definitely the slime. Did I mention the slime?
Do you and your team really study slime? Yes, we really study the slime, which I admit sounds a bit silly. Hagfish slime is not your usual slime – they can produce liters of it in a fraction of a second and it contains thousands of silk like fibres. Our best hypothesis about its function is that it deters attacks by fish predators by clogging their gills. We are currently trying to understand how the stuff that comes shooting out of the slime glands transforms so quickly into such a large volume of slime. We are also studying the cells that make the silk like fibers, which are some of the strangest cells in the animal kingdom. We are also doing biomimetic research on how we might be able to produce artificial fibers that are as strong and tough as hagfish slime threads.
This is really important…are you wearing a slime shirt right now? I am, mostly as a precaution against fish predators.

How does increased and larger scale fishing deeper in the ocean impact hagfish? Many hagfish populations are declining due to overfishing for both food and leather (marketed as “eelskin”). Hagfish are slow to reproduce and easy to catch with baited traps, so it is all too easy to wipe them out.
Why do you think a hagfish is cooler than a killer whale? Killer whales (or orcas) are cool, but can they themselves into knots? Can a killer whale suffocate a shark? Can a killer whale produce a mass of slime over 100 times larger than itself?
Do you think “the beauty that is hagfish” might intimidate other animals? I don’t think this is something they worry too much about.
How long have you been studying hagfish? Do you study them from shore, a ship, a sub? I’ve been studying hagfish for 17 years, mostly in the lab, but I’d very much like to study them in their natural habitat.
How can I help hagfish? It’s refreshing to get this question (it’s not one I get very often). I asked our resident hagfish and overwhelmingly they said burial at sea. You can also support initiatives to regulate the harvest of hagfishes, most of which are currently unprotected. Putting limits on trawling, which can be destructive to hagfish habitat, and supporting the establishment of marine protected areas, are also things that would help hagfishes.
How can I support your research? Visit our website at http://comparativephys.ca/members/dfudge, and support government funding for basic, discovery  based research.
What do you want people to learn/discover while they celebrate Hagfish Day? I think the most important lesson of Hagfish Day is that it’s not just the cute marine mammals that are deserving of our attention and protection. Hagfishes have been on this planet for about half a billion years and there is much we can learn from them.

Thank you Dr. Fudge for your time and amazing research!!!

**A special thanks to Dr. Fudge for helping us celebrate Hagfish Day. Dr. Fudge’s research is supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Read more about Dr. Fudge’s discoveries

Remember to celebrate Hagfish Day October 15, 2015 (and the third Wednesday every October).

Reference: Douglas S. Fudge and Hagfish Slime,  Hagfish Day! WhaleTimes, Inc. (www.whaletimes.org) October 2014.

©2014 WhaleTimes, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Save the Planet…Wear Hagfish slime?

Hagfish day HAGFISH SLIME Copyright Gene Helfman All Righst Reserved Used with permission wbsm

Fish expert Gene Helfman holding up freshly made hagfish slime!

CopyrightWhaleTimesItsSlimeTimeBanner SMForget acid wash jeans, tied-dye, silk…try the latest trend — Slime! Soon, high fashion models might be strutting, no, make that oozing down the runway wearing clothes made of hagfish slime!
If you were a microbiologist and/or not repulsed by a handful of hagfish slime dripping from your hands, you know that hagfish slime is fibrous or almost thread-like. If you look at hagfish slime under a powerful microscope (something we like to do here at WhaleTimes) you will see the slime is made of protein fibers or threads. Turns out the threads are similar to the protein in nails and bone! The hagfish thread is 100 times smaller than a human hair.
What this means is, after isolating the (microscopic) protein threads, scientists were able to spin them into fibers. According to the study, the hagfish slime threads have properties similar to those of regenerated silk fibers. Silk is also a protein thread.
The next goal is to find ways to use hagfish slime to make textiles. Though some of you might shout, “Where, oh where can I get some clothes made of hagfish slime?” Many folks will cry, “Why, oh why?” The where we can’t help you with, but the why is easy. Scientists continue to search for sustainable materials. That way we can stop relying on synthetics or petroleum-based products to make clothing and other products.
Will there be hagfish farms so we can all be fashionably slimed? Though a hagfish can produce buckets of the  stuff in just a short time, the good news is…probably not. Scientists hope to recreate the protein in a way that allows them to produce or recreate the slime threads without needing to pester hagfish. Now for the name for the fashion line….Gross Wear or Slippery When Sewn or….
Join us tomorrow for an interview with Douglas Fudge, an awesome scientist who studies hagfish slime and we’ll discover the answer to the burning question….does he really wear a lab coat made of slime?

For more info: American Chemical Society (2012, November 28). Hagfish slime as a model for tomorrow’s natural fabrics. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128112204.htm”>
If you’re a microbiology fan, read the original research paper: Atsuko Negishi, Clare L. Armstrong, Laurent Kreplak, Maikel C. Rheinstadter, Loong-Tak Lim, Todd E. Gillis, Douglas S. Fudge. The Production of Fibers and Films from Solubilized Hagfish Slime Thread Proteins. Biomacromolecules, 2012; 13 (11): 3475 DOI: 10.1021/bm3011837

Reference: Musgrave, Ruth A., “Save the Planet…Wear Hagfish slime?” Hagfish Day!, WhaleTimes, Inc. (www.whaletimes.org)

Copyright 2014 WhaleTimes, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It’s Hagfish Day! The celebration of the ‘beauty of ugly’

Hagfish day HAGFISH Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer wbsm

The lovely hagfish!

Forget sugarplums and heart-shaped candies, now there’s a real holiday for kids and it’s Hagfish Day!

Celebrate the anniversary of the 5th Hagfish Day Celebration with us!!! Five years of exotic, unusual…okay ugly ocean animals.
WhaleTimes created Hagfish Day (in 2009) to celebrate the beauty of ugly. Hagfish are the perfect example. These deep-sea scavengers ooze slime buckets of slime. They also play an important role in their ecosystem. WhaleTimes believes repugnant and slightly revolting animals like hagfish make great role models for highlighting conservation concerns for all marine animals.
“Sometimes it seems as if ecological causes are popularity contests that exclude the less attractive and less well-known, though equally vulnerable, creatures,” said WhaleTimes Director Ruth Musgrave. “There are species in peril that kids never hear about.”

We hope to have the bios of this year’s Hagfish Day stars up soon. (That darn hacking thing has added a wrinkle to our timeline!) This year’s stars are a combination of unusual, endangered, and beauty challenged.
How do you celebrate Hagfish Day? Classrooms, individuals and families can participate by making hagfish slime, writing a Haiku, vote for your favorite Ugly Beauty, make and send a Happy Hagfish Day bouquet to a friend, or simply learn more about the Hagfish Day stars and the scientists who study them. It’s sure to be a good slime!
More to come….