Myxine glutinosa 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Myxini Myxiniformes Myxinidae

Scientific Name: Myxine glutinosa Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Atlantic Hagfish, Borer, Common Hag, Hagfish, Northern Hagfish
French Myxine, Myxine du Nord
Spanish Anguila Babosa, Babosa de Mar, Pez Moco
Gasterobranchus glutinosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Gastrobranchus coecus Bloch, 1792
Myxine glutinosa ssp. australis Putnam, 1874
Myxine glutinosa ssp. limosa Putnam, 1874
Myxine glutinosa ssp. septentrionalis Putnam, 1874
Myxine limosa Girard, 1859
Petromyzon myxine Walbaum, 1792
Taxonomic Notes: According to Fernholm and Wheeler (1983), four specimens in the Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet (Swedish Museum of Natural History) are probably the original material examined by Linnaeus (1758) to describe the species and they should be accorded type status.

The western North Atlantic population was at one time assigned to a separate species, Myxine limosa Girard (1859), and Wisner and McMillan (1995) suggested a return to this practice based on differences in size at maturity (eastern North Atlantic are smaller) and colour differences in preserved specimens. In the absence of other supporting morphological data, these features seem insufficient to justify dividing the eastern and western Atlantic populations into separate species (Martini et al. 1998, Martini and Flescher 2002). More conclusive studies involving morphological and molecular data are necessary to resolve this taxonomic question.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-01-27
Assessor(s): Garcia, S.
Reviewer(s): García, M., Quigley, D. & Ralph, G.
Contributor(s): Blanco, J. & Mincarone, M.M.
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

Listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread and abundant, and it is not commercially targeted. However, further research and monitoring should be conducted on its population size and trend.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:There are two populations from the North Atlantic Ocean of this species. In the eastern North Atlantic, it is present from Murmansk (Russia) to northern Morocco, and in the western Mediterranean Sea, through northern Morocco, Tunisia (Fishbase 2014), Algeria, and the northern Adriatic Sea, but probably occurs along all western Mediterranean coastal regions.

In the western North Atlantic, it is present from Greenland to Florida, including a few records in the Gulf of Mexico (off Yucatán and Florida). It is present at depths from 40 to 1,200 m.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Gibraltar; Iceland; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Latvia; Lithuania; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Russian Federation (European Russia, Kaliningrad); Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Tunisia; United Kingdom
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):1200
Upper depth limit (metres):40
Range Map:196057-1

Population [top]

Population:This species is known to be very abundant and has a large distribution, although it is rarely recorded from Irish waters (Went and Kennedy 1976). Its current population trend is unknown.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found on shelves and slopes at depths from 40-1,100 m (eastern North Atlantic) and from 75-742 m depth (western North Atlantic). The maximum depth record (1,006 m) given by Wisner and McMillan (1995) for the western North Atlantic population was based on a single specimen (ISH 431-1986) recently reidentified as Myxine jespersenae, which was in fact collected off southeastern Iceland (Møller et al. 2005). The sex ratio of females and males in the samples analyzed by Martini et al. (1997) was highly skewed, at 9.8:1, which is typical for the species as a whole. The paucity of males in the population on both sides of the Atlantic has long been recognized, but it remains unexplained.

This species is found on muddy bottoms where they hide in the mud. In Kattegat, the species is been found in circalittoral sandy bottoms with sea pens as Pennatula phosphorea or Virgularia mirabilis (Paulomäki and Aguilar 2011). Slime is utilized for defence and it feeds mainly on dead and dying fish of varying species by boring into the body and consuming the viscera and musculature. The species is chiefly nocturnal. Its eggs are few in number, about 19-30 mm and large (20-25 mm), and the horny shell has a cluster of anchor-tipped filaments at each end. The copulatory organ is absent in this species. The gonads of hagfishes are situated in the peritoneal cavity. The ovary is found in the anterior portion of the gonad, and the testis is found in the posterior part. The animal becomes female if the cranial part of the gonad develops or male if the caudal part undergoes differentiation. If nothing develops, then the animal becomes sterile. If both anterior and posterior parts develop, then the animal becomes a functional hermaphrodite. However, hermaphroditism being characterised as functional needs to be validated by more reproduction studies (Patzner 1998). Its maximum size is 95 cm (TL).

The species has low resilience with a minimum population doubling time of 4.5-14 years and moderate to high vulnerability (Fishbase 2014).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Myxine glutinosa is known as a by-catch species in NAFO Regulatory Area (Rogers and Gianni 2010), and in Ireland, where it is most likely discarded.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada (Government of Canada 2009) has assessed if Hagfish populations (Myxine glutinosa among other Myxinidae species) can sustain fishing activities in non-exploited areas, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, concluding that current lack of knowledge on most of the ecological aspects of Atlantic Hagfish does not allow to ensure the sustainability of fisheries. The species is susceptible to overexploitation due to its low reproductive rate (Grant 2006) .

Hagfish fisheries around the world have not been very sustainable and are expanding, so stock assessments and fisheries measures are needed to avoid over-exploitation, as this has occurred in some areas around the world (Ellis et al. 2015).

There are no available data on catches at European waters.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ellis et al. (2015) assessed fisheries of Hagfish around the world, concluding that it is not a sustainable fishery. The lack of knowledge on its biology and the lack of stock assessment and fishing regulations may have caused over-exploitation in some areas. The fishery is expanding, so the species could be threatened by fishing activities.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is not included on any National Red Lists or Red Data Books and it is not subject to any conservation actions. It is unknown whether it occurs in protected areas. Further research should be conducted on the population size, trends and trade of the species. Monitoring of the population trends is also encouraged.

Citation: Garcia, S. 2015. Myxine glutinosa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T196057A18984969. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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