Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yes, There Really is Such a Thing as a Blobfish

Photo from the London Telegraph
I have to admit, this is a new one to me. I would have never known about this creature if it hadn't been for the Swimmies of Doom, but after seeing the photo I had to find out more.

Turns out, this is indeed a real critter. A critter that the Telegraph called "the world's most miserable-looking fish". Other sites call it "the world's ugliest fish" and "the world's most unattractive fish". All of this seems a bit unfair, given that the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) lives at depths up to 800 m where the pressure is dozens of times that experienced in the sunlit world. Obviously, he's going to collapse into a blobby mess at sea level! After all, we don't look too good after being exposed to, oh, say, the vacuum of space.

Illustration from Wikipedia
But then again, this is a fish almost entirely made of a gelatinous fatty material. A couple of articles even refer to him as "the fat-head fish". His lifestyle is pretty blobby too: his squishy body is only slightly less dense than water so he is able to float serenely over the ocean floor waiting for food to pass in front of his mouth without expending any energy on swimming. He does, however, seem to "sit" on eggs. I tried to find out more about this adaptation, but came up empty. I suppose there aren't too many ichthyologists out there making the study of the blobfish their life's work. Sigh.

Sadly, this bizarre, inoffensive, and ironically inedible fish is being driven to the brink of extinction by deep sea trawlers. As technology allows for fishing at greater and greater depths more fish are being snagged as bycatch. As you can imagine, the blobfish isn't very good at getting out of the way of these huge nets, and so ends up being hauled to the surface where the pressure difference kills him. I don't know about you, but I feel that the world would be a poorer place without the blobfish in it!

4 comments:

  1. That story made frog queen sad :(

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love blobfish. And angler fish. And that fish with the transparent head. Basically I have a thing for odd looking fish.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh dear. Deep sea trawling...is there no place on this planet we'll leave as-is?

    --Patricia Lichen, www.patriciaklichen.com

    ReplyDelete

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