Blobfish are kings of the “ugliest animal” contest, and possibly one of the most viral creatures in the world. In reality, these fish aren’t quite the nightmarish creatures they appear to be when they are viewed in their natural habitats.
Because they are basically gelatin with little-to-no bone or muscle, when you remove them from the pressure of the deep-sea they lose all body shape. The famously floppy creatures you see in photos are subject to the sad reality of surface gravity, making them look much more ridiculous. Read on to learn about the blobfish.
Description of the Blobfish
Blobfish have large heads with rounded bodies that taper towards the tail. In the depths of the ocean they look more like an actual fish, and are virtually unrecognizable. The gelatin-like skin and body is an adaptation that allows these creatures to maintain neutral buoyancy. Their pallor pink colored skin also gives them a particularly eerie appearance.
Interesting Facts About the Blobfish
What’s more intriguing than one of the ugliest creatures in the sea? At the ocean’s surface, blobfish are undoubtedly a sight to behold, but what else makes these creatures unique? Find out below.
- Swim Bladder – Most species of bony fish have pockets of air in their bodies called swim bladders. Swim bladders allow them to achieve neutral buoyancy in the water by altering the amount of air within, so they can keep from sinking or floating.
- Bladderless – Having pockets of air in your body is all fine and dandy when you live near the surface, but at the depths of the ocean floor, a swim bladder would burst. Instead of using a swim bladder to maintain neutral buoyancy, blobfish have minimal bones and jelly-like tissues. This allows them to float in place with minimal effort.
- Energy Saving – Having the ability to float in place without having to “swim” can be extremely beneficial if you are trying to conserve energy. In the deep sea, food is hard to come by. This means that if you have any hope of survival, you must conserve as much energy as possible.
- Non-Discerning – Thankfully for the blobfish, nature has given them exactly what they need to survive. By floating along near the ocean floor with minimal effort they can search for food without expending much energy. These fish feed on virtually anything edible, including a variety of carrion drifting down from the surface, crabs, sea urchins, and more.
Habitat of the Blobfish
These fish have a very specific habitat zone that they inhabit. For the most part, they remain close to the sea floor anywhere from 2,000 ft. to 3,900 ft. deep. This depth is called the mesopelagic zone. The pressure at this depth is approximately 80 times that of the surface.
Distribution of the Blobfish
There is little research on the complete distribution of this species. They are found primarily off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. Scientists have not found them anywhere else in the world. Most of their distribution is determined by accidental captures in commercial fisheries using bottom-trawling nets.
Diet of the Blobfish
These creatures are not picky. If the can find it, and it fits in their mouth, they will eat it. Detritus floating down from the ocean’s surface provides nutrition, but can be incredibly invariable. These particles are sometimes referred to as marine snow. They also feed on mollusks, crabs, sea urchins, and anything that they can catch.
Blobfish and Human Interaction
The only time these fish interact with humans is when they are accidentally captured in commercial fisheries. Animals that are incidentally caught in a fishery that is not intended to catch them are known as bycatch. Unfortunately, researchers are not sure what the extent of this impact will have on the overall population numbers. Currently the IUCN Red List has not evaluated their populations and threats.
Blobfish have not been domesticated in any way.
Does the Blobfish Make a Good Pet
No one has kept these fish in an aquarium setting, so it would be impossible to keep one as a pet.
These fish have never been kept alive outside of their natural habitat. Because of their body composition, you would have to be able to control the pressure to replicate their environment to keep them alive. If you could replicate their environment closely enough to keep them alive, it can be assumed their diet would be easy to replicate because it is so variable.
Behavior of the Blobfish
Very little is known about the normal behavior of blobfish. Their natural habitat at the ocean floor makes it difficult to conduct research. What we do know is based mainly off of research conducted on specimens accidentally captured as bycatch. Because they lack extensive muscle structure we know they are slow moving, and float near the ocean floor in search of food.
Reproduction of the Blobfish
There are few predators in the deep sea, so these fish reproduce and grow quite slowly. Very little is known about the reproductive behaviors of blobfish because research is quite difficult. Females will lay thousands of eggs on the sea floor. One of the parents guards the eggs, but scientists aren’t sure which one takes this duty.