Blobfish Psychrolutes marcidus
The blobfish is about 30 cm long, usually pink in colour and weighs approximately 2kgs. Underwater, the blobfish looks like a giant tadpole. But on land, its body collapses, and it looks like a slime blob.
The blobfish lives underwater at depths of over 1,000 meters off the coast of Australia. The water pressure at these depths is over 100 times greater than on land, and no sunlight reaches it. The water temperature is just above freezing (2.5 - 4 degrees Celsius).
Blobfish Description What Does a Blobfish Look Like?
The blobfish has a globulous head with large black eyes, a blunt fat-filled snout that looks like a bulbous nose, and a large mouth with villiform teeth (teeth resembling bristles of a brush) 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 adaptation 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 swims. 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 essential 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 the added benefit that it uses very little energy in movement.
25 Blobfish Facts
- The blobfish is a deep ocean fish that lives off the coast of Australia.
- It swims or floats at depths of 1,000 meters or more.
- Only underwater deep-sea rovers can reach this depth.
- The blobfish's body is designed to work under extreme pressure.
- Water around it acts as a container and compresses blobfish’s body into shape.
- For this reason, in the ocean, it looks like a giant tadpole. On land, it's a blob.
- The blobfish 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.
- The blobfish's low muscle mass and usage mean it uses very little energy.
- 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 it's way.
- The blobfish female lays thousands of tiny, pink eggs.
- Nobody knows if the blobfish is endangered because so little is know about them and their population numbers.
- 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 130 years.
- Three types of blobfish are found in the oceans around Australia.
- The blobfish is not dangerous.
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 ocean's surface. This is because the high water pressure keeps its body in the correct shape. However, it only looks like a blob of jelly when it is out of its deep-water habitat. The reason for this drastic collapse of its shape is the considerable loss of pressure around its body on land.
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.
Blobfish - Habitat Where do Blobfish Live?
Blobfish live close to the ocean floor at depths more than 1,000 meters. Here, the water pressure is over 100 times greater than on land.
The depth at which the blobfish swims is more than 2.5 times deeper than 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. Only specially designed undersea rovers can penetrate down to these depths.
No sunlight reaches this deep ocean. As a result, there are no plants and other 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 human has observed blobfish in their 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.
Blobfish - Diet What Do Blobfish Eat
The blobfish eats dead biomass drifting down from above, floating crustaceans, larvae, sea slugs, sea snails, and sea urchins. It is a lie-and-wait predator and spends most of its time just floating around, waiting for food to come it's way. It then sucks the food into its enormous mouth.
Can You Eat a Blobfish?
The blobfish's body is gelatinous (like jello) and is mainly made up of water. So, yes, you can eat a blobfish. But it is pretty tasteless. Would you eat a tasteless blob?
There is 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 conserve 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?
The main predators endangering the survival of the blobfish are humans. Deep-sea trawlers run nets down to the depths at which the blobfish lives. They are caught up in these fishing nets and hauled to the surface, where they are tossed back into the sea as they have no commercial value. But by then, it is too late for the blobfish. It cannot survive out of its depth and is already dead.
Because so little is known about the blobfish, we do not know if it has any natural predators or threats.
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—fake news, 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 microporous. 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 wasn't fair. Mr Blobby was out of water and dead. However, 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.
All Rights Reserved. (Last Updated: Jul 25, 2021)