Is The Blobfish, Really The “World’s Ugliest Animal”?

The blobfish, also known as the “world’s ugliest animal” (or so it was voted in 2013) is quite a rare sea creature, and definitely not a pleasant one.

Discovered in 2000, mainly off the coast of Australia, this deep sea creature is not as scary as it seems.  The blobfish, it was discovered, is made up of mostly jelly like flesh with almost no muscle.  This leads to a couple of important characteristics of the blobfish’s life.  Firstly, as it has almost no muscle, it cannot actually do much.  Blobfish sits on the ocean floor and feed on matter floating by.  They are not able to really swim and therefore hunt, but instead wait with open mouths typically for pieces of small crustaceans to come by for them to swallow.

blobfish swimming

The other important characteristic this brings about is that because they’re mostly jelly like and not muscular, they are low density.  This causes them to float along gently rather than be stuck to one spot on the bottom of the ocean floor.

By looking at pictures we can understand why there are so many jokes centred around the looks of the blobfish, but is this really fair?  As we’ve mentioned, blobfish live at the bottom of the ocean and down there the pressure is anywhere from 60 to 120 times higher than what we experience on land.  This means that while blobfish look quite literally like blobs (with human-like faces) on land, this is most likely not what they would look like under that pressure.  In fact, under so much pressure, blobfish look like any other fish (in shape that is).  For that matter, should we as humans be put under that pressure, we would be completely crushed and most likely end up looking like blobs too.

blobfish swimming

Because these fish live so close to the sea floor which is so hard to explore, we know very little about them.  If they are similar to other deep sea creatures they may live for tens of years or even more as long as some external influence doesn’t end their life early.

blobfish swimming

We humans do not hunt the blobfish for meat, yet they are still very threatened by the fishing industry.  They are often picked up with drag nets from seafloor trawlers.  These fishers hunt for other floor dwellers like crab and lobster.  With no muscles, blobfish are unable to escape the nets and instead die.  The Ugly Animal Preservation Society has taken up the blobfish’s case in order to save animals for their own sakes rather than the aesthetics they provide to the world.

blobfish swimming

Since their discovery, the blobfish has spawned quite a few jokes and gags.  One quite famous one came from Saturday Night Live.  In the story, 3 sailors have fallen overboard during a terrible storm and awake to find that they are saved by 3 mermaids.

Mermaids being half women and half fish naturally can be half of any kind of fish.  And to the delight of the first 2 sailors and the horror of the third, the first mermaid is half bluefish, the second half marlin, and the third half blobfish.  The scene goes on hilariously laying out the horror of the third man as he realises he must kiss the blobfish mermaid for all three of them to turn human.

 

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