Blobfish Blobfish

Blobfish Blobfish

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  • What’s the scoop on blobfish?

    Psychrolutes marcidus

    Imagine sitting on the deck of a giant fishing trawler somewhere off the coast of Australia. The fishermen are reeling in the big nets, and lots of eerie, alien-looking creatures are being dumped on the decks. Suddenly, you see an odd, smooth, foot-long lump amongst the chaos. It’s a squid! It’s an octopus! No, it’s a…blobfish?


    What is a blobfish?

    A blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) may be the ugliest animal you’ve ever seen. In fact, the title is official: in a 2013 competition held by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society , the blobfish was actually voted as the World’s Ugliest Animal . The blobfish has small eyes, a gelatinous appearance, a large mouth, and a relatively small body and fins to go with it.

    If being named “blobfish” wasn’t bad enough, the rest of its family gets little love either. The blobfish is a member of the Psychrolutidae family of fishes, commonly known as “fathead sculpins” due to the size of their heads and generally floppy appearances. Poor guys!

    Life as a Blob

    As it turns out, the blobfish has good reason to be so ugly: its habitat shaped it that way. Blobfish live in deep water just off the ocean floor around southeastern Australia and Tasmania. At depths of 2,000 feet or greater, the water pressure is crushing—more than 60 times that of water at the surface! If you lived down that deep, you’d probably be squished into a blob, too.

    Fortunately for the blobfish, they’ve adopted a way of living that allows them to survive just fine as a blob in the deep ocean. They tend to float along, just off the bottom of the sea, eating whatever happens to float right in front of them and is small enough to fit into their mouths.

    You might think that being a blob would be a disadvantage, but for the blobfish lifestyle, it actually helps. Most of its body mass is gelatinous, and it has very few hard bones. This is an advantage in the crushing depths where it lives; by being made out of gelatinous, blobby material, the blobfish can keep itself from being crushed due to water pressure. In fact, the blobfish looks very different when in its natural environment at the bottom of the sea—it appears much more compressed and fish-like (but still quite odd-looking, even for a fish).

    Being a gelatinous blob also helps the blobfish with its coach-potato attitude. Its body composition gives it just the right buoyancy to float along across the bottom of the sea without having to expend much effort. Imagine putting a water balloon in a pool full of people: it would just kind of float along across the bottom of the pool. The same thing happens with the blobfish, minus the pool and lots of people part.

    Why are blobfish numbers declining?

    It’s difficult to get good population numbers on the blobfish because it’s not a very important species economically. No one is crowding into expensive restaurants asking for the Blob of the Day. They’re also very hard to find (how likely are you really to come across a blobfish in your adventures?), and not very photogenic, unlike red wolves or whooping cranes . It’s likely that no one really knows how many blobfish there are.

    Nevertheless, scientists think that these interesting fish are declining due to fishing activity. Fisherman use trawlers to catch deep-sea delicacies like orange roughy and crustaceans in their native environment, and sometimes blobfish just happen to get swept into these nets, too. When they are inadvertently caught, they’re known as bycatch, and it’s a huge problem for many other non-food species of fish as well. Luckily, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority has closed some of their habitat to fishing, so hopefully there’ll be less blobfish bycatch in the future.

    In the meantime, though, you can learn more about blobfish and other interesting threatened ugly animals at the Ugly Animal Preservation Society !

    Related Topics

    Choose one of the following categories to see related pages:

    • Endangered Animals ,
    • Odd Fish

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    Written by Lindsay VanSomeren

    Lindsay graduated with a master’s degree in wildlife biology and conservation from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also spent her time in Alaska racing sled dogs, and studying caribou and how well they are able to digest nutrients from their foods. Now, she enjoys sampling fine craft beers in Fort Collins, Colorado, knitting, and helping to inspire people to learn more about wildlife, nature, and science in general.

    Published: 08/16
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    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Psychrolutes marcidus.jpg
    Drawing of blobfish by Allan Riverstone McCulloch
    Conservation status

    Endangered  ( IUCN 3.1 )
    Scientific classification
    P. marcidus
    Binomial name
    Psychrolutes marcidus

    ( McCulloch , 1926)

    The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a deep sea fish of the family Psychrolutidae . It inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania , as well as the waters of New Zealand . [1]

    Blobfish are typically shorter than 30 cm (12 in). They live at depths between 600 and 1,200 m (2,000 and 3,900 ft) where the pressure is 60 to 120 times as great as at sea level , which would likely make gas bladders inefficient for maintaining buoyancy . [1] Instead, the flesh of the blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. Its relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats in front of it such as deep-ocean crustaceans . [2]

    Blobfish are often caught as bycatch in bottom trawling nets.

    The popular impression of the blobfish as bulbous and gelatinous is partially an artifact of the decompression damage done to specimens when they are brought to the surface from the extreme depths in which they live. [3] In their natural environment, blobfish appear more typical of their superclass Osteichthyes (bony fish).

    In popular culture

    Artist’s impression of two blobfish in situ

    • The musician and author Michael Hearst featured a composition titled “Blobfish”, inspired by the animal, on his 2012 album Songs For Unusual Creatures, [4] and subsequently created a blobfish episode for his PBS Digital series. [5]
    • In September 2013 the blobfish was voted the “World’s Ugliest Animal”, based on photographs of decompressed specimens, and adopted as the mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society , in an initiative “dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children”. [6] [7]
    • The March 12, 2016, and March 11, 2017, episodes of Saturday Night Live featured sketches in which Kate McKinnon played a very unattractive mermaid who was “65% blobfish”. [8]
    • In the seventh episode of the eleventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files , Fox Mulder is mistakenly given blobfish, a dish he did not order, in an automated sushi restaurant. [9] [10]
    • The New York Daily News published a side-by-side picture of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz with a blobfish. [11]
    • In the Homestar Runner toon, Characters from Yonder Website, Character 5, a stand-in for Marzipan, offers a blobfish as a spice to teach “a little bit o’ spice” to Character 2, a stand in for Homestar . [12]


    1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2010). “Psychrolutes marcidus” in FishBase . February 2010 version.
    2. ^ Hearst, Michael (2012). Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals . Chronicle Books. pp. 24–25. ISBN   978-1-4521-0467-6 .

    3. ^ Schultz, Colin. “In Defense of the Blobfish: Why the “World’s Ugliest Animal” Isn’t as Ugly as You Think It Is” . Smithsonian.
    4. ^ Hearst, Michael (2012). “Blobfish” . NPR . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
    5. ^ Hearst, Michael (3 January 2014). “The Incredible True Story of the Blobfish” . PBS .
    6. ^ “Blobfish voted ugliest animal in online mascot vote” . Ugly Animal Preservation Society. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
    7. ^ Victoria Gill (12 September 2013). “Blobfish wins ugliest animal vote” . BBC . Retrieved 13 September 2013.
    8. ^ “Watch Mermaids from Saturday Night Live” . 12 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
    9. ^ Harnick, Chris (February 28, 2018). “Mulder, Scully and the Blobfish? All About The X-Files Prop Gillian Anderson Can’t Get Enough Of” . E News. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
    10. ^ “” . Retrieved 12 March 2018.
    11. ^ “Blobfish” . New York Daily News.
    12. ^ “Characters from Yonder Website – Homestar Runner Wiki” . Retrieved 2018-05-13.

    External links

    • Deep-sea creatures in Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
    Taxon identifiers
    • Wikidata : Q82288
    • ADW : Psychrolutes_marcidus
    • BioLib: 312556
    • EoL : 206368
    • FishBase : 14347
    • GBIF : 2334906
    • iNaturalist : 349823
    • IRMNG: 11409609
    • ITIS : 644432
    • uBio: 136771
    • WoRMS : 274674

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        Psychrolutes marcidus   (McCulloch, 1926)

        Smooth-head blobfish

        Add your observation in Fish Watcher

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        Psychrolutes marcidus
        Data sources: GBIF

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        Image of Psychrolutes marcidus (Smooth-head blobfish)

        Psychrolutes marcidus

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        Classification / Names
        Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

        Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads) > Psychrolutidae (Fatheads)

        Etymology: Psychrolutes: Greek, psychroloutes = someone that has a cold bath (Ref. 45335 ).

        Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range

        Marine; bathydemersal; depth range 600 – 1200 m (Ref. 9563).   Deep-water; 33°S – 50°S, 136°E – 155°E

        Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

        Southwest Pacific: Endemic to Australia (off Broken Bay, New South Wales (33°34’S) to off southern Australia, including Tasmania).

        Size / Weight / Age

        Maturity: Lm&nbsp ? &nbsp range ? – ? cm
        Max length : 30.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9563)

        A temperate species (Ref. 7300 ) recorded from the continental slope (Ref. 9563 , 75154 ). Benthic (Ref. 75154 ).

        Life cycle and mating behavior
        Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

        Main reference
        Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

        May, J.L. and J.G.H. Maxwell, 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p. (Ref. 9563)

        IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

           Not Evaluated  

        CITES (Ref. 115941)

        Not Evaluated

        CMS (Ref. 116361)

        Not Evaluated

        Threat to humans


        Human uses

        FAO(Publication : search ) | FishSource |

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        Estimates of some properties based on models

        Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969 ): 6.7 – 7.5, mean 6.7 (based on 5 cells).

        Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805 ):  PD50 = 0.5005   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
        Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00389 (0.00180 – 0.00842), b=3.12 (2.94 – 3.30), in cm Total Length, based on all LWR estimates for this body shape (Ref. 93245).
        Trophic Level (Ref. 69278 ):  3.4   ±0.5 se; Based on size and trophs of closest relatives
        Resilience (Ref. 69278 ):  .
        Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low vulnerability (21 of 100) .

        Entered by Binohlan, Crispina B.
        Modified by Ortañez, Auda Kareen

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