Prepare to be amazed by the blobfish, an extraordinary deep-sea wonder that challenges conventional notions of beauty! Dubbed the “World’s Ugliest Fish,” this intriguing creature has that look because of human action. Let’s dive into cool facts about blobfish to see their real beauty when they are where they belong to.
1. The blobfish is made up of slime
The blobfish, belonging to the Psychrolutidae family, is famously referred to as the smooth-head blobfish. Differing significantly from other fish, this creature exhibits unique anatomical features. It’s one of the weirdest sea creatures in the ocean.
Its body is composed of a gelatinous material that enables it to endure the immense pressures of the deep ocean waters. They don’t have a complete skeletal structure and muscular system, and their skin hangs loosely and appears flabby, lacking any scales. Around 40 percent of their body mass is comprised of their prominent big black eyes, bulbous nose, and a sizable mouth. They possess a singular closed circulatory system and generally have a size shorter than 30 cm (12 in) in length.
In spite of the strange appearance, these creatures are not poisonous or dangerous to humans since they lack teeth and do not bite.
The discovery of the blobfish dates back to 2003 when marine ecologist Kerryn Parkinson encountered it during an ocean expedition near New Zealand. This peculiar creature dwells in the depths of the ocean, making it a challenging task to study them in their natural environment. Scientists still don’t know much about their mating and sleeping behavior, as well as their predators.
2. They inhabit the ocean’s highest pressure zones
The blobfish lives in its favored habitat, which lies in the depths of the ocean where extremely cold temperatures and intense pressure. These extraordinary habitats boast depths spanning from 600 to 1,200 meters (2,000 to 4,000 feet) and pressures that reach an astonishing 60 to 120 times that of sea level.
It is frequently found in the underwater areas along the southeastern coast of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the surrounding oceans of Australia and New Zealand.
Although rarely spotted in their natural habitat, a Japanese public aquarium successfully exhibited a blobfish.
3. They’re not that ugly
Back in 2013, the blobfish garnered widespread attention after being crowned the “ugliest animal in the world” through a British Science Association online poll. With droopy and sagging appearance, the species captivated the public’s curiosity, leading it to triumph in the survey. However, the fish is not as ugly as we see in the picture. They look different underwater.
In its natural habitat deep in the sea, the blobfish actually look like a typical fish, far from the seemingly sad, pink mass it becomes when brought to the surface. This transformation occurs due to the significant difference in pressure between the extreme depths where the blobfish lives and the surface environment where they are caught up by fishermen.
Under the effect of decompression at the surface, the gelatinous body of the blobfish experiences decreased density, resulting in its collapse and a flaccid, balloon-like appearance. Unfortunately, this abrupt depressurization causes severe tissue damage, rendering the blobfish dead when brought on land.
So, we take these normal-looking fish out of the water, causing them to deform. Then, we call them the ugliest animals in the world.
4. They don’t need swim bladders
In contrast to numerous other fish, the blobfish does not possess a swim bladder, which is a gas-filled sac responsible for controlling buoyancy. This absence can be considered a clever adaptation, safeguarding the fish from implosion due to the immense pressure present in the deep sea.
In contrast to many other fish that find it challenging to survive in the extreme pressures of the deep waters, the blobfish flourishes thanks to its distinctive physiology characteristics. With gelatinous and oily flesh possessing high water and fat content, the species is slightly less dense than water. This unique makeup allows them to effortlessly hover just above the seafloor, conserving energy in the harsh environment.
5. They don’t hunt for food
Blobfish are sluggish and unresponsive. Since they live in the deep sea where energy is limited, the fish have adapted to minimize energy expenditure in movement. This is also applied when they hunt. These carnivores come up with a unique and energy-efficient feeding strategy known as “ram feeding.”
Instead of actively swimming and hunting, they simply glide above the ocean floor, patiently awaiting the arrival of small crustaceans and other sea creatures drifting by. When the prey comes into their vicinity, the blobfish promptly open their wide mouths to draw them in and swallow them whole. Due to their proportionally larger lips, these creatures are capable of ingesting prey that exceeds the size of their own bodies.
This ambush tactic not only conserves their crucial energy but also significantly improves their odds of survival in the dim and perilous environment they call home.
The fish primarily eat marine creatures inhabiting the ocean floor, such as lobsters, sea urchins, crabs, sea pens, and various other invertebrates. Since food is scarce on the sea floor, they also include organic detritus that descends from the surface in their diet. This abundance of food particles and microscopic organisms ensures a stable and nourishing food source, allowing the blobfish to thrive at such extreme depths.
These fish don’t have any predators so far. Humans stand as their sole threat.
6. Life cycle
Blobfish exhibit distinct reproductive behavior and a slow growth rate. In their reproduction, females lay 1000 small pink eggs either on the seafloor or in rocky regions situated atop deep ocean platforms where the water temperature is higher. This strategic choice of location enhances the chances of the offspring’s survival. Additionally, these species might reproduce in groups, further boosting their likelihood of survival in the challenging oceanic environment.
After laying the eggs, either the female or male will incubate them, safeguarding the eggs from potential predators until they hatch and transform into fully developed baby fish. Depending on the habitat, their incubation period will take about 15-30 days.
Though the exact lifespan of the blobfish remains uncertain, deep-sea creatures typically enjoy extended lives due to their gradual growth and minimal threats from predators. According to certain estimations, these peculiar fish have the potential to survive for up to 130 years, rendering them one of the most long-lived species inhabiting the ocean depths.
7. They’re endangered
According to the IUCN Red List, the blobfish’s conservation status is vulnerable. With a mere population of 420 individuals in the world’s oceans, its survival hangs in a delicate balance.
The rare species face a significant threat primarily from deep-sea trawling, a fishing method that employs massive nets dragged across the ocean floor to capture valuable fish species. Due to their highly acidic flesh, these peculiar creatures are inedible. However, paradoxically, they frequently become a victim of bycatch, getting trapped and injured in these nets. Fishermen unintentionally emerge as their primary predators.
Preserving the blobfish and ensuring its ongoing existence necessitate prioritizing conservation efforts aimed at 2 points: reducing bycatch and safeguarding the deep-sea habitats. Due to its restricted home range and slow reproductive rates, the blobfish faces higher vulnerability to eradication, making protective measures all the more essential.