Fun blobfish facts

February 15, 2024

As an ocean writer, I’m fascinated by all the weird and wonderful creatures that live in the sea but I do have a bit of a soft spot for the underdogs – and none is more deserving of some TLC than the much-misunderstood blobfish. We don’t know an awful lot about these strange lumps because they live at such immense depths so there is much still to discover. But here’s what we do know…

Fun facts

  • You’re probably familiar with the on-land face of the blobfish: pasty-pink and jelly-like with a large droopy nose and downturned mouth. But scientist Richard Arnott says this amorphous blob is not what the blobfish really looks like. If the roles were reversed and we went to its habitat, we’d look pretty strange, too. Well, worse than that, actually – we’d implode!
  • So why do they look so… well, ugly? The blobfish’s natural environment is in the cold, dark, murky waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans between 1,970 and 3,940 feet deep. Below 650 feet there is very little light, so no plant life and very little food. The water pressure at this depth is 100 times stronger than on land. So, the blobfish has evolved a soft body with a high water and fat content that can withstand this immense pressure. 
  • Plus, it’s developed a loose skin that reduces its density and helps it to float more easily across the seafloor.
  • So, in its home habitat, it still has that big head and mouth but its shape is recognisably fishy. It’s only the tissue damage due to the rapid depressurisation as it was brought to the surface that turns it into the pink blob that became a viral meme.
  • Despite this, in 2013 the blobfish was voted the world’s ugliest animal.
  • Since food is scarce in the deep ocean, the blobfish must conserve energy to survive. That’s why it’s become something of a coach potato, sitting around on the seabed and waiting for any juicy morsel to float or swim by – such as crustaceans, anemone or carrion. It's a bit like the deep-water version of lolling on the sofa waiting for someone to bring you a snack!

Scary facts

  • Even at such incredible depths, human activities can affect the blobfish. For example, bottom trawling is a devastating fishing method that, essentially, rakes up the sea floor and destroys entire ecosystems.
  • As blobfish thrive in cold waters, they are also likely to be affected by the world’s warming oceans.

How you can help

  • Support ocean conservation projects that protect our precious marine ecosystems. This way, you can help a wide range of marine creatures including the blobfish!
  • Use your voice to oppose destructive human activities such as bottom trawling and deep-sea fishing.
  • Show some love for creatures that are lacking the ‘aahh, cute’ factor. Because it’s not just charismatic species, such as pandas and whales, that deserve our protection. Check out the Ugly Animal Preservation Society which champions the world’s less aesthetically pleasing animals.

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