What is a blobfish?

April 16, 2020 | Environment
Blobfish: the jelly-like, super-deep water fish lives at high depths near Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand | Photo: Shutterstock

Some people say this slimy pink fish is bizarre and monstrous; others will tell you that it is cute and adorable. Meet the blobfish.

The creature has already been voted and named the ugliest animal on the planet in a campaign to raise awareness of endangered and aesthetically challenged creatures.

This weird, yet intriguing animal is scientifically known as Psychrolutes marcidus.

The blobfish was discovered in 2003 by marine ecologist Kerryn Parkinson while on ocean expedition off New Zealand.

The peculiar species, also known as smooth-head blobfish, is a deep-sea marine creature that lives off the southeastern coast of mainland Australia, as well as the waters of Tasmania and New Zealand.

The gelatinous, strange-looking fish swims in underwater regions where the pressure is 60 to 120 times greater than at sea level, i.e., depths ranging from 2,000 to 3,900 feet (600 to 1,200 metes).

Psychrolutes marcidus: a fish without a swim bladder | Illustration: Riverstone McCulloch/Creative Commons

The Anatomy of the Blobfish

These animals have different anatomy compared to other fish.

For example, they don't have a swim bladder, which allows them to control buoyancy. If blobfish had these gas-filled sacs, they would implode.

These marine animals don't have a full skeleton or muscles, and the stomach is inside their body.

Their bodies are made up of a blobby substance with a density that is slightly lower than water, allowing them to float above the seafloor.

Unlike many other fish species, blobfish don't have scales - instead, they have loose, flabby skin.

With large black eyes, a large mouth, and a bulbous nose, the blobfish features a globulous head that makes up 40 percent of its body mass.

These deep-ocean swimmers have a single closed circulatory system.

They can reach more than two feet in length, although, on average, they are typically one-foot long.

Their reproduction rate is slow, as well as their growth and aging, and they could live up to 130 years.

Females lay up to 100,000 eggs in a single nest in rocky areas, on top of deep ocean platforms with warmer water temperatures.

They hover over the eggs until they hatch.

A blobfish's diet includes crustaceans - including crabs, lobsters - but also sea urchins and mollusks. They sit on the bottom of the ocean and wait for prey to come into their mouth.

Psychrolutes phrictus: one of the 11 species of Psychrolutes | Photo: Creative Commons

Blobfish and Humans

The blobfish is a threatened species.

According to marine researchers, there are only 420 individuals left in the world's oceans.

With its extremely acidic flesh and gelatinous body, the blobfish is not edible. Paradoxically, fishermen are blobfish's main predators.

The species is on the verge of extinction due to overfishing.

They often get accidentally caught up as bycatch in trawling nets and die as soon as they are exposed to air.

Although rarely seen, a Japanese public aquarium has a blobfish on display.

The bizarre-looking pink creature doesn't bit because it has no teeth, and so it poses no threat to humans.

The blobfish is the official mascot of The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, an informal association of stand-up comedians that aims to protect some of Nature's more aesthetically-challenged species.

Strange Looks and The Evolution of the Species

Although they appear gelatinous and bulbous, blobfish look like regular fish in their natural habitat, i.e., at great depths.

It's only when they are brought to the surface, suffer decompression damages, and their body collapses that they look like an obese man or a slime blob.

Marine biologists believe that the jelly-like, deepwater animal evolved from fish that had air sacs but had to compete with others for food.

Without these air sacs and equipped with a gelatin mass, the specimen is able to find nutrients at high depths, where there's less competition.

SurferToday.com uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more on our About section.