The Blobfish (aka The World’s Ugliest Animal) Psychrolutes Marcidus
This droopy looking Jabba the Hut impersonator with its gloomy scowl, glistening flesh and eye catching schnoz is arguably one of the least aesthetically pleasing animals found in the ocean today. Although this gelatinous blob has become an internet star of late, scientists know very little about this mysterious species.
Blobfishes belong to the family known as fathead sculpins (Psychrolutidae). The family contains eight genera and more than thirty species. The blobfishes occupy a habitat of some 2,800 meters beneath the waves – an inhospitable zone that is exposed to water pressure that is more than 100 times the pressure of water at the surface. Its jelly-like body is perfectly adapted to staying alive whilst its home is trying its best to crush it. They have soft bones, few muscles and they lack an air filled swim bladder (most other fish have one). Changes in pressure within the swim bladder could cause the bladder to expand and ‘push out’ their other internal organs though their mouth. Instead they have a gelatinous blobby frame filled with incompressible parts such as water-filled cells to stay afloat in the water, whilst the water pressure around then keeps everything from spilling out. If blobfish are brought to the surface, the rapid drop in pressure causes its body to expand and turn into a gooey mess.
Being a gelatinous blob also helps them with their couch potato attitude, as they bumble along the depths of the ocean like grumpy old men. They live in a cold, dark world, far removed from the life-supporting rays of the sun and where food is scarce and energy efficiency is necessary for survival. This is why many deep sea fish are not kitted out with oxygen-burning muscles or calcium dense bones.
Blobfish lead lethargic lives, bobbing along the bottom, waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass. These guys are not picky, they are opportunistic feeders, feeding on virtually anything edible, including sea urchins, mollusks, crabs, lobsters, bacteria, sea pens and a variety of carrion drifting from the surface. If it fits in their mouths, they will eat it.
Embodying a unique blend of cute and ugly has led to the blobfish being voted as the World’s Ugliest Animal 2013 in an online poll by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. In its mission to raise awareness of Mother Nature’s endangered but “aesthetically challenged’ animals the blob was chosen from 11 nominees. Sadly, this gruesome little creature is often accidently captured by deep-sea trawlers seeking crabs and lobsters. Despite the blobfish having something better than soft contours of conventional beauty, their appealing vulnerability is not enough to tug at the heartstrings of trawler fishermen and they are simply discarded.
Although the blobfish may not win any beauty awards, they are key to maintaining the planet’s biodiversity, so let’s appreciate their sad droopy faces and flabby bottoms!!!
May I present to you, Mr Blobby Blobfish, the world’s ugliest animal.
Article written by: Angela Warrior @Pure Sea Mexico