blobfish artwork

The Psychrolutes marcidus, or blobfish as it is more commonly known as is a type of deep ocean fish. It resides about 3,000 feet deep in the water and presently holds the distinction of being the ugliest fish globally.

The first thing you’ll notice about the blobfish is that it wears what looks like an everlasting scowl; it is not only loose but also downright terrifying. Remarkably, the blobfish looks like a normal bony fish when it’s at deep-sea.

When they are pulled out of their natural habitat, their body shape blows up, taking on the bulbous shape they are famed for. Explore several fascinating facts about the Psychrolutes marcidus.

Size and Description.

The blobfish usually takes on a light grey, pink, or white color. While they are submerged deep in the water, these fish boast flat heads, curved and fleshy lips, and large, spaced eyes. It also has dorsal fins with about eight different spines and an anal fin with 12 to 14 soft rays.

Additionally, the Psychrolutes marcidus also has large pectoral fins and a minimal skeleton that allows it to live in extremely harsh conditions.

blobfish out of water
“Eulogy for a Blobfish, New York, NY” by Grufnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another fascinating fact about their anatomy is that they lack swim bladders that are designed to aid in their buoyancy and movement.

These air sacs would falter under the extreme pressures these fish reside in. In place of these bladders, they make use of their jelly-like flesh to keep them afloat. Studies have shown the Psychrolutes marcidus can grow anywhere between 12 to 28 inches at full maturity. In the process, it can also weigh 20 pounds (9 kgs).

Diet and Eating Habits.

In as far as its diet is concerned, blobfish are omnivorous. This comes from consuming virtually anything it will come across, ranging from mollusks, shellfish, invertebrates, sea pens, sea urchins, and crabs. In some unfortunate cases, they can even consume plastic waste materials that adversely affect their health.

The blobfish consumes its prey by sucking them into its largemouth. Their method of eating also highlights the fact that they do not have any teeth.

Additionally, because of its extremely low muscle mass, the blobfish will typically float above sea level, eating virtually anything that comes its way. Consequently, this species has been labeled ‘lazy’ as it never actively hunts for its prey. Even a scarcity of food would not force these fish to migrate.

Can you eat a blobfish?

The first question you should ask yourself is, why would you want to? The fish has no muscles at all, so you would effectively be swallowing fat.

blobfish out of water
They are inedible. (Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnawman)

Besides its highly unappealing physical traits, this type of fish is not only acidic but also gelatinous. As such, their consumption would hardly do any wonders for your well-being.

Lifespan and reproduction.

Because they live at such great water depths, most scientists have not effectively studied the Psychrolutes marcidus. Owing to their lack of predators and slow growth rate, it is estimated that they may live for as long as 130 years.

Little is also known about how they reproduce as well. Studies, however, revealed that there could be about 100,000 eggs in a single nest.

Remarkably, only about 1,000 of these eggs will hatch. One working theory is that their eggs are highly vulnerable to predators as most blobfish do not linger around to keep them safe.

However, in some cases, blobfish sculpin females and males have been spotted resting above their eggs to keep them safe. Additionally, female blobfish lay their pink eggs along the seafloor. Scientists have also observed that most female blobfish tend to nest right next to each other.

Several theories try to explain this behavior, the most prevalent being that they congregate together in areas with sinking water. This ensures that a steady supply of food regularly floats their way. Another advantage is that the water remains warm in this area.

Location and habitat.

The Psychrolutes marcidus can be found across waters scattered in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the coasts of New Zealand, Tasmania, California, Japan, and Australia. As far as their habitat is concerned, these fish have been known to favor deep ocean/sea waters (2,000 to 3,900 feet deep).

This species was first documented back in 1926. However, owing to its proclivity to stay in deep and dark waters, it remained a mystery to most people who bore no knowledge of the creature’s existence.

All of this changed in 2003 when a research expedition accidentally found them. They were venturing across the Norfolk Ridge, in the north-west coast of New Zealand. The NORFANZ expedition scientists immediately gave it the nickname ‘Mr. Blobby.’ This is how the blobfish would subsequently get the name it’s famed for.

the pacific ocean
Blobfish reside about 4,000 feet deep in the water (Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/137620031)

Threats they face (their predators).

Because they mostly reside along the sea-floor, blobfish tend to have no natural predators. The main threat they face mostly stems from humans, albeit accidentally. These fish tend to fall victim to by-catch, particularly while large-scale commercial fishing is at play.

Several blobfish end up in trawlers typically designed to trap deep-sea aquatic life such as crustaceans. Even though the fishermen can put them back in the water, bringing the blobfish to the surface is all it would take to kill it.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has not thoroughly observed this species. As such, their conservation status remains unknown. However, one unsubstantiated population estimate suggests that there are only about 420 blobfish left in the world. This would imply that they are critically endangered.

Facts about the blobfish.

The hideous blobfish
“Blob fish” by s i b e r is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Mr. Blobby, a Blobby fish specimen discovered in New Zealand, presently lies in a 70% alcohol solution at the Australian Museum’s Ichthyology Collection.
  • This species belongs to the Psychrolutidae family. Other members of this group include tadpole sculpins and fatheads.
  • It is estimated that only 1% of a blobfish’s nest will make it into adulthood. This would explain why some experts say that their numbers are depleting steadily.
  • The blobfish cannot stand the rapid change of pressure. Their bodies can only survive in the high-pressure waters they call home. If they are exposed to the surface, they’ll immediately die.
  • In the absence of a skeleton, these fish have a partial backbone.

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