Semi Truck Spills Tons Of Live Eels On A Major Highway

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First responders compared the accident site to scenes from “Ghostbusters.”

The northbound truck was moving quickly as it approached stopped traffic on a stretch of the iconic U.S. Route 101.

“I don’t think he’ll be able to stop,” Kevin White remembers saying to his wife, Donna, as the slimy situation unfolded. White was stopped and waiting for the go ahead from a construction flagger along with a line of cars in the southbound lane of the winding coastal highway.


“And sure enough, he didn’t,” White told The Oregonian.

“It was kind of surreal,” White said, “because we could see it all happening.”

Remembering the shape of the cargo on the back of the truck, White told the newspaper, “At first, I thought, ‘those are porta-potties. Then I thought, ‘oh no. This is awful.'”

The truck narrowly missed hitting a construction vehicle and avoided making contact with any of the stopped cars, so no humans were killed in the accident, but the incident did technically cause thousands of casualties.

Depoe Bay Fire Dist.‏/Twitter

As the truck swerved to miss the other vehicles, 13 large objects spilled onto the stopped cars and on the highway; these large objects were containers holding 7,500 pounds of live hagfish, also known as slime eels.

Hagfish, a.k.a. Slime Eels

The containers were headed to South Korea, where hagfish are considered a delicacy.

According to National Geographic, hagfish are the only animals with a cranium but no spinal column. These fish—they’re not eels, technically—typically grow one to two feet in length.

As Wired notes, hagfish have loose skin, which allows them to squeeze into tiny spaces half as wide as their bodies. They’re essentially sightless creatures, with external teeth and a number of tentacles that surround their horizontally opening mouths, helping them to find and feed on rotting corpses along the ocean floor. But, that’s not the grossest thing about these sea scavengers.

Depoe Bay Fire Dist.‏/Twitter

When hagfish are agitated or disturbed, they “spew out slime at the stunning rate of four cups in a fraction of a second,” explains National Geographic‘s Christine Dell’Amore.

These thousands of hagfish were certainly agitated when they found themselves sliding and sliming across the pavement along the central Oregon coast.

“It looked like something out of ‘Ghostbusters.'”

When the truck spilled its slimy cargo, debris landed on a line of at least four cars in the southbound lane of Route 101.

According to an early report from The Oregonian, the fish covered 200 feet of the road, and cleanup crews couldn’t completely clear them for about four hours. First responders quickly arrived on the sticky scene to check on the drivers of the damaged cars and to get the road reopened.

Depoe Bay Fire Dist.‏/Twitter

“Everyone was kind of like, what do we do, because we’ve never seen anything like this,” firefighter Lt. Eric Leonard told the Northwestern newspaper. “It looked like something out of Ghostbusters.”

In total, firefighters sprayed the slick road with 6,000 gallons of water to clear off the fish and slime. Crews also brought in a bulldozer, which pushed the waste into the ditch along the highway.

According to Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman, Lou Torres, AA Seafood Inc. of Depoe Bay will be responsible for moving the piles of dead fish from the side of the road.


That cleanup may require “an excavator with a bucket to scoop up the remains” as well as a dump truck, Torres explained.

“I did the best I could.”

Kevin White described the driver of the truck as “apologetic,” following the accident. “He said, ‘I did the best I could,'” White remembered. “He did. He did all he could to avoid hitting anybody.”

“If the driver had turned over, if he’d tipped all the way,” White said, the containers might have crushed the cars that were stopped there on the highway.

Getty Images

Thankfully, White and his Ford 150 are doing okay following the disgusting disaster, although, after three carwashes, White says his truck still smells fishy.

It’s probably better for White to be smelling like the fishes rather than sleeping with the fishes.

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