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Our Students LOVE Slime… And So Do Ocean Animals!

Slime has been a popular trend in the past few years and sure can make for a fun time. You know who else likes slime? Tons of ocean animals and creatures. They also make their own slime! In nature, animals usually use slime for protection. Read on to learn about a few ocean creatures who do just that!

Corals

Although corals seem pretty plant-like, they are made up of lots of tiny invertebrates called polyps to create colonies. Corals are an important part of the marine ecosystem, as they are a source of food and a habitat for many other animals. Did you know corals release slime? This protects corals from drying out when exposed to air. Sometimes during very low tides, corals are at risk of drying out and this mucus helps keep them moist. Not only does slime protect corals from heat, but also other environmental changes. For example, slime also helps keep corals clean! Some corals will excrete mucus to clean dirt and other pathogens off their surface.

Hagfish

The infamous hagfish has the unfortunate reputation as one of the grossest animals in the world. These deep-sea creatures look like eels and use tentacles on their faces to find food (aka dead animals) which they then bury inside of. Yuck. What makes them even weirder is their ability to produce massive amounts of slime. To ward off predators, hagfish secrete proteins that expand into a clear slime when mixed with ocean water. This helps the animal escape while their predator is busy with a mouthful of goo. How do they escape their own goo? Well they have a solution for that too. After “sneezing” out mucus, the fish ties it body in a knot to keep it away from their face.

Parrotfish

These beautiful tropical fish sleep in a bed of slime. Many parrotfish burp up a cocoon of mucus to cover their bodies while they sleep to protect them from predators, both big and small. Specifically, little parasites called gnathiid isopods that are like the mosquitoes of the sea. During the day, the fish can easily keep the parasites off their bodies, but at night the slime helps keep the little blood-suckers at bay.  Scientists have noticed that parasites attack parrotfish sleeping in cocoons significantly less than parrotfish that sleep naked! How do they breathe when covered in mucus? Special glands in their gills allow for this, truly the work of some amazing evolution!

Want to make your own ocean slime, just like the hagfish?

Make Your Own Slime!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup clear glue
  • ¼ cup liquid starch
  • Blue and green food coloring
  • Glitter
  • Sea shells and/or plastic sea animals

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix 1/4th cup of water and 1/4th  cup of glue
  2. Add blue color, glitter, and ocean animals/shells
  3. Pour in half of the liquid starch and stir. You will see the slime begin to form. Keep stirring until the liquid is gone
  4. Knead the slime until consistency changes from stringy to gooey
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 using the green dye
  6. Lay the green and blue slime next to each other in long strips and swirl together
  7. Enjoy making your dream of becoming a hagfish a reality!

More info on making and playing with slime here.