British beach break? Zombie fish that 'feeds on rotting corpses' could ruin your hols

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URGH: These cannibal fish latch onto a host and burrow into their body to feed

As millions of sun seekers head for the seaside, they will be confronted by the gruesome new menace lurking in British waters this summer.

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Step forward the Hagfish, a truly terrifying creature – which burrows into rotting corpses to feed – and is working its way towards our shores.

It’s the latest hazard the nation will be living in fear of after warnings that deadly hornets and ticks are about to swarm Blighty.


Hagfish in the seaGETTY


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“They reach a couple of foot long and feed on dead and rotting corpses”


Myles O’Reilly, Senior Specialist Scientist at SEPA

Once the Hagfish find a meal, they latch on with their feelers and bore straight into its flesh.

Swimmers are in for a summer of fear as the creepy eel-like fish reach peak size in July.

And if cannibalism isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine – it’s able to SLIME its predators to death, according to scientist Myles O’Reilly.

The zombie fish reach “a couple of feet long and feed on dead and rotting corpses,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Not much is known about the creatures except that they existed BEFORE dinosaurs roamed the planet some 360 million years ago.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly how the critters have lay in hiding for so long – or even how they mate.

Their ancient lineage bears striking similarity to their equally terrifying comrade, the vampire fish – or lamprey.

Lampreys are also making a comeback in our waters – infiltrating rivers across the country.

The parasitic fish latch onto flesh using its disc-like mouth filled with teeth and suck out their blood before “rasping” their host so their skin bonds together.


HagfishCELESTERAMSAY


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Lamprey can reach up to one metre – and are at their largest this month as they migrate from the sea to our rivers to feed.

They received bad press in the US after petrified fishers and holidaymakers shared snaps of the bloodsuckers latching onto their limbs.

Smaller lamprey feeding in British rivers are not a safety risk, assured Mr O’Reilly, a senior scientist at the Scottish Environmental Health Agency.

But anyone who spots a Hagfish – which have already been spotted off the Scottish coast – should be warned as they are known to squirt out a stinking slime to suffocate predators.


Hagfish slimeFLICKR/CREATIVECOMMONS


GUNGED: The hagfish slime can paralyse its prey

Its goo is so potent scientists have been trying to study it for decades.

Many believe it could hold all sorts of useful purposes ranging from essential skin creams and bandages to the downright bizarre bungee jump cords.

The fish – which has no backbone – ties itself in a knot to avoid choking itself on its own sludge.



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