Blobfish What is a Blobfish?
The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is about 30 cm long and weighs approximately 2kgs. It has a globulous head with large black eyes, a blunt fat-filled snout that looks a bit like a bulbous nose, and a large mouth with villiform teeth (teeth the resemble bristles of a brush) on both jaws. Its head makes up 40% of its total body mass. Its body tapers quickly from its head to a small flat tail and is covered in smooth, loose skin. It has no scales. It is usually pink in colour but can also have grey tones.
The most notable characteristic of the blobfish is the composition of its body, which is made up almost entirely of a gelatinous substance with a density slightly less than water. Because of this lighter density, there is natural buoyancy in the fish, permitting it to float just above the seafloor. It can also change the density of the gelatinous mass in its body to vary the depth at which it floats. This enables it to adapt to different depths of water. This lighter-than-water body allows the blobfish to float effortlessly in its habitat, expending very little energy to move around. Another sea creature that has a gelatinous body is surprise - surprise, the jellyfish.
The blobfish has very soft cartilaginous bones which easily compress to the extreme pressure of the deep sea without breaking. It also has no teeth.
The blobfish has just enough muscle, attached to its soft cartilaginous skeleton, to perform the basic function of living. These include breathing with its gills, opening its mouth, and moving its fins slowly to navigate just above the ocean floor. Its low muscle mass and usage have an added benefit that it uses very little energy in movement.
25 Blobfish Facts
- The blobfish lives off the coast of Australia.
- It is found in the ocean at depths of 1,000 meters or more.
- The blobfish swims or floats just above the seafloor.
- Only underwater deep-sea rovers can reach this depth.
- The blobfish's body is designed to work under pressure.
- The water acts as a container and compresses its body into shape.
- For this reason, in the ocean, it looks like a tadpole. On land, its a blob.
- It has no hard bones.
- Instead, its skeleton is made from soft, flexible cartilage.
- The blobfish has hardly any muscle. Just enough to operate its gills, open its mouth and move its fins very slowly.
- Its low muscle mass and usage mean it uses very little energy for movement.
- Unlike most fish, the blobfish has no swim bladder to keep it from sinking.
- Instead, its body is made of a gelatinous substance lighter than water.
- Because its body is lighter than water, it floats effortlessly at whatever depth it likes.
- It floats by adjusting the water content of gelatinous mass in its body,
- By doing this, the blobfish makes itself lighter or heavier.
- It has no scales.
- It is not an active hunter. It waits for food to come its way.
- The blobfish female lays thousands of tiny, pink eggs.
- Nobody knows for sure if the blobfish is endangered.
- The blobfish named Mr Blobby was voted the ugliest animal in the world.
- Yes, you can eat a blobfish.
- But it is quite tasteless.
- Blobfish may live for a 100 years.
- Three types of blobfish are found in the oceans around Australia.
Why is the Blobfish a Blob? How the Blobfish becomes a Slime Blob
The blobfish looks pretty much like a typical bottom-dwelling fish when swimming in its habitat 1,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. This is because the high water pressure keeps its body in the correct shape. It only looks like a blob of jelly when it is out of deep water. The reason for this drastic distortion and collapse of its shape is due to the huge decrease in pressure around its body. When swimming in the depths of the ocean, the water pressure around it forces its soft body into its natural shape.
Here is a real-life example of how this works. We all know of the slimy stuff kids play with called "Slime". Now when the slime is in its container, the sides of the container keep it in shape. In this case, the shape of the container is putting pressure on the slime, forcing it into a shape. However, when you take the slime out of its container, it no longer has something forcing it to have a shape. So it becomes blobby and has no particular shape. The same principle applies to the blobfish. It is designed to work under pressure. The water acts like a container.
Where do Blobfish Live? Blobfish - Habitat & Distribution
Blobfish are bottom dwellers, living close to the ocean floor at depths in excess of 1,000 meters. This is more than 2.5 times deeper than the depth at which even the most powerful submarine can go. A submarine, if it were to go this deep would be crumpled like a tin can by the water pressure. At this depth, the water pressure is over 100 times greater than on land at sea level. Only specially designed undersea rovers can penetrate down to these depths.
No sunlight reaches these depths and as a result, there is no vegetation of any sort. The water temperature is just above freezing (2 - 4 degrees Celsius). Except for a rare photograph taken by a deep-sea rover underwater vehicle; no blobfish has ever been observed by humans in its natural habitat.
Three types of blobfish are found close to Australia. Their habitats are colour-code in the map. The Smooth-head Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is found off the coasts of southern Australia, the Western Blobfish (Psychrolutes occidentalis) lives off Western Australia and "Mr. Blobby" (Psychrolutes microporos) lives near Norfolk Island.
What Do Blobfish Eat? Blobfish - Diet
The blobfish is lie-and-wait predator and eats whatever comes its way. This may consist of dead biomass drifting down from above, floating crustaceans, and larvae. It spends most of its time just floating around, waiting for food to come its way and then sucks it into its big mouth. It may also pick up slow-moving creatures such as sea slugs, sea snails, and sea urchins that scientists found in the stomachs of some dead blobfish they examined.
Can You Eat a Blobfish?
The blobfish's body is gelatinous (like a jellyfish) and is mostly made up of water. Yes, you can eat a blobfish. But it is quite tasteless. would you eat a tasteless blob?
With very little food in the depths at which the blobfish lives, scientists believe its body structure, with very few muscles, very low metabolic rate, and slow movement helps it to conserves energy.
Blobfish Reproduction & Life Cycle Baby Blobfish
Scientists postulate that the blobfish reproduces by laying tens of thousands of tiny, pink eggs in a nest on the ocean floor. Then she and her mate hover over the eggs to protect them from predators.
Deep-water fish such as the blobfish tend to live to a ripe old age because of their slow growth rates and the lack of natural predators. It has been suggested that a blobfish may live up to 130 years.
Blobfish Predators & Threats What Kills Blobfish?
Because so little is known about the blobfish, we do not know if it has any natural predators or threats.
The main predators that may be endangering the future survival of the blobfish are humans. Deep-sea trawlers run nets all the way down the depths at which the blobfish lives. It is caught up in these fishing nets, and since it is commercially worthless, it is tossed back into the sea. But by then it is too late for the blobfish. It cannot survive out of its depth and is already dead.
Blobfish Conservation Status Are Blobfish Endangered?
It is hard to be sure if the Australian blobfish is endangered as no one knows what its population numbers are. Conservationists believe that deep-sea trawling may have an impact on their survival. These assertions, however, have not been validated with any credible scientific evidence. To date, very few blobfish have been trawled up in fishing nets, and large areas of their habitat off the coast of Australia are not heavily trawled. So they may, in fact, not be seriously affected by human activities.
Some people claim that there are only 430 blobfish in the world. This is mere hearsay and not based on any credible scientific evidence.
The Sad Story of Mr. Blobby Winner of the Ugliest Animal in the World Award
Mr. Blobby (see photo) was a blobfish of the species Psychrolutes microporos. It was trawled up in 2003 by the NORFANZ scientific expedition from a depth of between 1013 to 1340 meters off the Norfolk Ridge 1300 km off the coast of eastern Australia. It was 285 mm in length and weighed 1.7kg. Although called Mr. Blobby, no one knows if this fish was a male or female as it was never dissected.
Mr. Blobby had his "fifteen minutes of fame". He was an overnight media sensation. Today, Mr. Blobby sits alone in a bottle preserved in 70% ethyl alcohol, on a shelf in the Australian Museum Ichthyology Collection (AMS I.42771-001). He no longer looks like the photos. His skin has tightened, his eyes sunken and his distinctive nose has shrunk—poor Mr. Blobby.
Based on photographs of Mr. Blobby, the blobfish was voted the "World's Ugliest Animal". The contest definitely wasn't fair. The Ugly Animal Preservation Society had good intentions when it voted the blobfish the ugliest animal in 2013. It is trying to raise awareness of endangered animals that don't grab the public's imagination because they are ugly.
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