Helping the Hagfish

Helping the Hagfish

Tanya Gaylord


Every year, larger numbers of hagfish are resorting to gang life. In coastal areas where hagfish communities are abundant, hagfish gang violence is on the rise. Experts agree that the sheer ugliness of hagfish make them more vulnerable to discrimination, and many hagfish are looking to gangs to feel a sense of belonging. All along coastal cities, an increasing number of hagfish are abusing drugs at alarming rates. Helping stomp out hagfish discrimination, and reaching hagfish early enough with outreach programs, can help prevent hagfish gangs and therefore decrease hagfish gang violence.


Hagfish gangs are growing in numbers and hagfish gang violence is on the rise. Police reports show that the number of hagfish gang related incidents has nearly doubled over the last three years (Johnson 2) . In Jackson County, Louisiana last year, there were three hundred reported cases of gang related assault or destruction of property (Johnson 2). They have been spray painting their gang signs, also known as “tagging,��? everywhere. All along the coast, hagfish have been joining gangs in record numbers. It is believed that one in every four hagfish between the ages of three and six will join a gang (Callente). Violence is not the only problem with gangs. Seventy Percent of gangs are also involved in drugs (Johnson, 2). Drugs can make even the most stable hagfish do regrettable things. This is a dire situation. As the number of hagfish gangs increase in number, a rise in violence and crime sure to follow.


There are a number of reasons we have arrived at the current crisis. The simplest is that the hagfish are often misunderstood. An information campaign in areas of large hagfish populations would help deter the hagfish discrimination that plagues their communities. We should be publicly celebrating the accomplishments of hagfish instead of focusing on their problems. Dispelling some of the common stereotypes of hagfish would help people to understand them better. This would help hagfish better integrate into society, and would strengthen hagfish communities. Eighty percent of people polled by Clarice Hankerton in 2008 said that they believe Hagfish are ugly and untrustworthy (3). This bias creates a harmful environment for the hagfish. People have gone out of their way to make the hagfish feel bad by yelling derogatory terms at them and spray painting their houses (Hankerton, 3). The natural response for the hagfish is to close themselves off from society, and to lash out (Horible). It is no wonder young hagfish are looking to gangs to feel better about themselves.


This is not yet a lost cause. Community outreach programs, if properly funded, will decrease the number of young hagfish joining gangs. If we can reach the hagfish early in life, we can show them that gang life is not the answer. We can provide them with alternatives, and foster an environment of positive interaction with their communities. A community outreach program in Chicago was shown to reduce the number of youth starfish moles joining gangs by nearly forty percent (Googlestien, 5). Although starfish moles and hagfish are dissimilar in appearance, adolescence of both species behave in very similar ways (Khoolwhip). It is not unreasonable to think that hagfish could have the same success. In another study, young hagfish were asked if they would participate in intramural sports instead of joining gangs, if they were available. Most of the young hagfish agreed that they would rather play sports (Hugs, 99-100). Keeping Hagfish in a safe school environment will also lead to them making better choices. Is important to keep all of our schools well funded and save, but more so for the hagfish. Clearly, giving young hagfish opportunities for extracurricular activities will keep them from gang life.


Opponents of outreach programs say they are a waste of money and a not effective enough. However, there are many scientific studies that show just how effective they are. There is no lack of evidence supporting outreach programs, only poor public opinion due to many right winged attempts to discredit them for no real reason. In 2006, the Counsel of American Conservative Families published a report that claimed for every five polar bear cubs that belonged to an outreach program in Alaska; only two reported being positively affected. However, a deeper look into this report showed that they had only used numbers from the two worst funded programs (Googlestien, 5). This group tried to discredit a program using numbers they knew were questionable. They chose to ignore an abundance of supportive evidence and focus on the only negative thing they could find.


The hagfish have been forced into coastal communities due to a shrinking ocean. It is not their fault and we need to integrate them the best we can. America was founded on immigrants and these Hagfish are no different. In addition to keeping the Hagfish safe, we need to think about our own streets safe by reducing the number of gangs. Hagfish use gangs to act out against a society that looks down on them, and until we can help people to see them as equals, we must try to combat the gang problem head on. Community outreach programs are the best way to accomplish this.











Works Cited



Callente Frank.  “Gang Violence on the Rise. ” Blue County News [Santa Ana, Calif.] 02  Feb. 2009,* ProQuest Newsstand. ProQuest. Harold P Erikson Library, Duluth, MN 23 Feb. 2009


Johnson, John. “The Rise of the Hagfish.” Online News Report 1312 JAN 2009 2-3. 24 Feb 2009 <>.


Hugs, Alota. “Studying Hagfish Gangs: Early Influence is Most Effective.” Journal of Coastal Animal Civil Justice (May 2005): 98-119. EBSCO MegaFILE. EBSCO. Harold P. Erickson Library, Duluth, MN. 23 Feb. 2009


Googlestien, Arther. Combating Gang Violence. 1. Amarillo: New Castle, 2006.


Horible, Hagar. “Hagfish Discrimination Plagues Communities.” Hagfish Daily Tribune 12411 NOV 2008 1. 24 Feb 2009 <>.


Hankerton, Clarice. “Discrimination is Bad.” The Liberal Post 05 JUN 2008: 3.


Khoolwhip, Jason. “Adolescence of Ocean Creatures.��? Oceanic review (Jan 2006)