Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beware! The Blob

I’ve tried to write about the Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) before, but gave up due to lack of information. It was first suggested to me about a year and a half ago, and has been suggested a few times since then. I think I’ve found enough information about it and its close relatives to do it justice. First things first, though: the Blobfish does not look like a deflated Ziggy.

Image from the Telegraph

Yes, that is a picture of the Blobfish, and yes, that picture makes it look like someone let the air out of Ziggy’s oversized head. However, that picture was taken of a dead specimen on a research boat, right before it was pickled in formaldehyde. Blobfish don’t rely on swim bladders to remain buoyant like other fish, because the pressure of half a mile of water would squish the air right out of them. Instead, their flesh contains a gelatin-like substance that is nearly equal to the density of water. This means they can float effortlessly in the water, but makes it look like they melted above the surface. As to what they really look like, this is a much better picture:

These fish, who now resemble their Sculpin brethren much closer, bob along the ocean floor around the coast of Australia and New Zealand. There, they eat whatever floats or crawls by—mostly crabs, snails, and octopuses1.

Everyone seems to think Blobfish are lazy. Yes, they are adapted to using as little energy as possible to eat and move, but they are not deadbeats. While other fish spawn and leave, the Blobfish is an attentive parent. They will clean and sit on the eggs, protecting them from parasites and predators.

More efficient fishing methods have caused no end of trouble to all kinds of sea creatures. Trawling the ocean floor for crustaceans also picks up bycatch like the Blobfish. Callum Roberts and other scientists are worried about the future of this majestic fish. While it’s not officially listed as endangered, the government is certainly worried about it.

Public knowledge about bycatch in general, and the Blobfish in specific, is growing. Professor Roberts has certainly been trying to get the word out. There is also this British kids’ show that depicts the Blobfish fairly accurately, as well as adorably. They also sound like British Zoidbergs, which seems appropriate.


1You can argue all you want about the proper plural of “octopus.” There isn’t one.


Ugly Animals said...

I don't know why.. every time I see this Blog fish picture I get lazy. This one looks so shapeless and ugly g1t.

D.J. said...

I think this is a direct descendent of the dreaded drakozoon.

Kimblee said...

That pic of it in the water might be the cutest thing I see all day. Seriously adorable, like a squishy pufferfish.

Anna said...
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Endangered Animals said...

I really amazed this deep sea creatures. Look like melted above the surface.

Endandered Animals said...

i really LOVE deep sea creatures.

Endangered Animals

Anonymous said...

This is such an interesting animal. I have never heard about the blob fish before this blog. I found this article very intriguing because the visuals showed me what the blob fish looked out of the water, which is basically a blob, and then in the water. Thanks for creating this blog, I will be sure to refer to this blob for a project!

Anonymous said...

1 No, as a Greek root, Octopus can be pluralized as either octopuses or octopodes your use is perfectly accurate. But since folk are used to latin roots octopi is the [incorrect] standard.