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Blobfish

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A blobfish (Psychrolutes phrictus), photographed near the bottom of the sea. There are some sponges next to it.
Blobfish out of water.

The blobfish (scientific name : Psychrolutes) is a marine fish which lives at very great depths in the abysses off Australia and New Zealand. "Blobfish" is its English name, meaning blob fish, in reference to its slack appearance. Indeed, the blobfish is very well adapted to his environment, and his body is slack and gelatinous, giving him a strange look when you take it out of the water. It doesn't have a common French name at the moment. There are actually several species of blobfish, which are very similar.

While people don't eat it, the blobfish is nonetheless an endangered animal, because of fishing.

Description and way of life[edit | edit source]

The blobfish really is a strange animal. Its weird appearance has gotten it classified on the internet as the "World's Ugliest Animal" Furthermore, it is not very well known, and very few people have had the chance to see it in its natural environment.

This is normal: the blobfish lives near the bottom of the sea, at very great depths: up to 1200 meters! Because of this it's very difficult to observe, and the only blobfish that can be seen are those which have been brought up to the surface by fishermen.

Although the body of the blobfish looks very bizarre when brought up to the surface, it is perfectly adapted to the bottom of the sea. For instance, the blobfish has no swim bladder: the swim bladder is a pouch filled with gas, like a small balloon inside the body most finned fishes: by inflating or deflating the swim bladder, a fish can float more or less high in the water, using Archimedes' principle by varying in density.

But at very great depths, the water exerts enormous pressure which would probably burst the swim bladder, most "normal" fish therefore wouldn't be able to live this deep. But the blobfish has no swim bladder. It disappeared from his ancestors a long time ago. As a result, they do not fear large pressures and they can therefore live very deep in the ocean.

Without a swim bladder, one might think that the blobfish does not float, and that it should have to swim relentlessly to stop itself from sinking. The second special feature of the blobfish is that his flesh, that is to say, his muscles, have a gelatinous consistency and are less dense than water. Even though he has no swim bladder, the blobfish can thus naturally float a little above the bottom ocean without having to spend too much energy.

The blobfish is definitely very well adapted to its lifestyle in the deep.

Prey and Predators[edit | edit source]

With his gelatinous muscle, the blobfish is not a great swimmer: it is not very fast, and therefore prefers prey which are immobile or slower than him. It is an opportunistic predator, that is to say, he eats whatever he happens to catch. They eat primarily pennatules, sea snails, or crabs. It can also feed on marine snow, this substance falls permanently on the seabed from the surface.

Blobfish habits are poorly known, as very few have been observed in their natural environment. However, we often find scars of suckers on larger blobfish. So we think that blobfish, in turn, are eaten by larger mollusks such as squids or octopus.

Fishing and threat[edit | edit source]

Fishermen who have just caught blobfish.

Because of its gelatinous and extremely acidic flesh, the blobfish is not edible, so it does not interest fishermen. Yet, paradoxically, it is a victim of overfishing. Fishermen use special nets called trawls, to scrape the bottom of the sea, and to capture crustaceans such as lobsters. However, these nets do not differentiate in the things they catch and thus capture many other species such as the blobfish.

Today, being the victims of overfishing, blobfish are threatened with extinction.