Trap to Rear Eggs from Newly Caught Hagfish

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Taylor Heyl UNH - Department of Biological Sciences
Adam Baukus UNH - Department of Biological Sciences
Nina Maggio UNH - Department of Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisors:

Stacia Sower UNH - Department of Molecular, Cellular & Biomedical Sciences
Mickie Powell UNH - Department of Molecular, Cellular & Biomedical Sciences

Atlantic hagfish, Myxine glutinosa, were held in modified traps within the Gulf of Maine in order to investigate the reproductive process and embryology of the organisms. The ultimate goal was to obtain a fertilized M. glutinosa egg under confinement in the ocean.

There have been no fertilized eggs discovered since 1891. There were two objectives to our study. The first objective was to monitor gonadal development of hagfish maintained in drums that were kept on the ocean floor. The second objective was to obtain a fertilized hagfish egg by keeping male and female hagfish in secured drums on the ocean floor and, in addition, by injection of hagfish with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) implants to stimulate reproduction.

Eight modified 55-gallon drums were deployed approximately one mile west of the Isles of Shoals in association with open-ocean aquaculture net pens, each containing six hagfish: two female, four male. The hagfish were maintained for four to five months. Dissections and histology were performed on the hagfish. However, because of extreme weather conditions, several of the traps were lost. For those few traps left, maturation of hagfish and gonadal development were observed although no fertilized egg was obtained in these experiments.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • T.R.E.N.C.H.: Trap to rear eggs from newly caught hagfish (2001). Adam Baukus, Taylor Heyl and Nina Maggio. Advisors: Mickie Powell and Stacia Sower.