"Liquid eel" covered the road. 
Highway eels spill
Credit: Davies and Starr / Getty Images 

The scene on an Oregon highway yesterday was not out of a horror movie. It wasn’t from a slapstick comedy either. It was all too real. And it involved a truckload of eels that suddenly, and unexpectedly, found their freedom in the middle of a busy road.

Readers with sensitive stomachs should continue reading with caution: Thursday afternoon, a truck full of live eels tipped over on Oregon’s Highway 101, reports local news station KOIN. The truck – again, full of live eels – spilled its slimy, gooey, writhing contents onto passing cars and covered the road with their oozing sludge. The cause of all that white slime coating cars and the road? The eels secrete it when they’re stressed out – getting dumped onto a concrete road when your natural habit is the ocean will do that to you.

Technically called hagfish, the creatures are so well known for producing this mucous that they’re nicknamed “slime eels.” Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t smell great either. Combine the slime with piles of living and dead eels baking in the summer sun and you get an odor the Oregon State Police were right to be concerned about.

59-year-old truck driver Salvatore Tragale tried to stop the truck as he approached some roadway construction, but lost control of the vehicle, releasing 13 containers bearing 7,500 pounds of eel onto the highway. They tried to wriggle to freedom with their last breath – but alas they were too far from the ocean to make their escape.

The local fire department tried to hose down the road to lessen the mess, but it took them several hours to clear out the sea of squirming cargo. Thankfully, only one minor injury was reported during the chaos, unless you count all those poor, now deceased hagfish, that, for one brief, shining moment, thought they were homefree after all.