In the aquatic world, there are a lot of stunning-looking creatures, like the mandarinfish, the rainbow parrot fish, and the clownfish. If those are the Cinderellas of the sea, there are plenty of ugly stepsisters to choose from. But none have a reputation for being quite as ugly as the blobfish.
Its appearance is hard to fathom by description alone, but it almost looks as if someone made a gelatin mold of an old man’s head and left it out in the sun where it slowly started to melt.
Its unsightly appearance led to it being voted the World’s Ugliest Animal.
While some find the blobfish hideous, there are those who think it’s so ugly that it’s cute. Either way, it’s gotten a lot of attention for its appearance, so let’s take a closer look at this marine creature.
Remember that gelatinous-type appearance we mentioned? The blobfish only looks that way above water. In its normal habitat, which is 2,000 to 4,000 feet underwater, the pressure there makes it look like any ordinary fish.
But as it is brought up to the surface, caught in fishermen’s trawling nets, the pressure of the water decreases and the blobfish begins to lose its shape.
This isn’t the type of fish fishermen are looking for, so some attempt to throw them back in as an attempt to spare their lives. Whether that works and they can survive long enough to get back to the depths after losing so much water pressure is unknown. But it seems unlikely given their misshapen appearance when they reach the surface.
Their bodies don’t really need bones, because the crushing pressure of the depths give them all the support they need. And they don’t need much muscle either. For survival, the blobfish basically hangs out right above the ocean floor, moving its mouth to catch its food. Its diet consists mainly of mollusks and crabs that happen to cross its path.
Because they live so deep in the water, we haven’t been able to learn too much about them. Their lifespan and reproductive habits are unknown to us.
Although we don’t know much about their current numbers, some scientists worry that they are in danger of extinction. We don’t know all the locations blobfish may live – we can chalk that up as another one of the mysteries of the deep, but we know for certain they are found near Tasmania, Australia, and New Zealand.
Being this ugly has its perks. The blobfish has become one of the most instantly recognizable deep-sea creatures out there. You can find it on t-shirts, memes, and even featured in songs.
That deep under the water, the blobfish are safe from predators – at least as far as we know. Most of the threat to their population comes from humans. And although many of them die as a result of the trawling nets, we don’t eat them. That’s partly due to the texture of the fish as it surfaces, but also because blobfish don’t have much flavor.
We don’t know all the locations blobfish may live – we can chalk that up as another one of the mysteries of the deep, but we know for certain they are found near Tasmania, Australia, and New Zealand.
Who knows where else they might be? That’s just one of the tantalizing mysteries about this amazing creature.
SHANNON SERPETTE is an award-winning journalist, having received 10 Illinois Press Association writing awards across a wide variety of categories. An avid metal detectorist, Shannon spends most of her vacations at the beach searching for buried treasure. Follow her daily adventures on Twitter.