Pacific Hagfish

Latin Name

Eptatretus stoutii

Group Name


Taxonomy details


Pacific hagfish are native to the northern Pacific Ocean, with a distribution that extends from Baha California to Alaska. While some species of hagfish live at great depths-as much as 5000 metres-Pacific hagfish are typically found in shallower water, at depths of about 100 to 500 metres. They live on the ocean bottom, preferring soft beds such as mud or sand into which they can burrow. Pacific hagfish are thought to be fairly sedentary, but some populations migrate over short distances.

Species Description

Pacific hagfish are elongated and serpentine in shape, resembling eels or lampreys. They have a highly flexible cartilaginous skeleton. On their head, they have a pair of tiny eyes, one nostril and a jawless mouth, as well as a few barbels (or "whiskers"). Pacific hagfish range from grey to dark brown, sometimes with a bluish or purplish tinge, and are lighter on their underside. They grow to a maximum length of 60-70 centimetres.