With a Comically Sad Face, the Blobfish Could be the Ugliest Animal in the World

The blobfish is known for its interesting appearance. Learn more about its unique characteristics, and decide for yourself if it really is the ugliest animal in the world.

By Jake Parks
Feb 19, 2024 7:00 PM
Blobfish known as the world's ugliest deep sea creature
(Credit: World-Wide-Photography/Shutterstock)


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In the vast ocean, where extraordinary and bizarre creatures lurk in the mysterious dark depths, one such creature has risen to unexpected fame: the blobfish.

Unofficially considered the ugliest animal in the world, the blobfish has captivated the imaginations of scientists and ocean enthusiasts alike, especially over the past few decades. But beyond its unconventional appearance, what do we truly know about this gelatinous – and admittedly unsightly – creature?

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the world of the blobfish, exploring its unique characteristics, habitat, diet, and much more.

What Is a Blobfish?

The blobfish, scientifically known as Psychrolutes marcidus, is a foot-long deep-sea fish that inhabits the waters off the coasts of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.

Blobfish belong to the family Psychrolutidae, which are fish known for their soft, gelatinous bodies that can withstand the immense pressures of the deep sea. Blobfish are particularly well-adapted to live at depths between about 2,000 and 4,000 feet below the surface.

When Was the Discovery of "Mr. Blobby"?

The blobfish was first discovered and classified as a species early in the 20th century. But ever since researchers discovered a blobfish specimen (later nicknamed “Mr. Blobby”) during a deep-sea trawling expedition in 2003, the appearance of a blobfish has been the subject of much intrigue – and, let's be honest, a fair amount of ridicule. Above water, it's easy to see why the blobfish has earned the title of “world’s ugliest animal."

Read More: Startling New Sea Creatures

What Does a Blobfish Look Like?

(Credit: World-Wide-Photography/Shutterstock)

The flesh of the blobfish is jelly-like and primarily pinkish in color. When transported to the surface, the blobfish has a loose and flabby body, a large and droopy nose, and even a perpetually sad expression. However, Mr. Blobby’s notoriously “ugly” appearance was primarily due to the extreme decompression damage he suffered when researchers brought him to the surface. In its natural deep-sea habitat, where the pressure is more than 100 times that at sea level, blobfish look much more like a regular fish – albeit ones with extraordinary adaptations to deep-sea life.

When viewed in its deep-sea habitat, the blobfish body is quite streamlined and adept, allowing it to withstand the extreme pressures that would crush other marine animals. The flesh of the blobfish also has a density slightly less than water, which helps it effortlessly float above the sea floor without expending much energy or oxygen.

Why Is the Blobfish Called the World’s Ugliest Creature?

The blobfish earned the title of “the world's ugliest animal" in 2013 after a public vote made it the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. It won based on its appearance after being brought to the surface from its natural deep-sea habitat. After suffering decompression damage during its ascent from a high-pressure environment to the surface, the blobfish appeared to have a grotesquely sagging body and a comically sad face. The distinguishment, while unflattering, has ironically increased public interest and awareness about this and other deep-sea species.

Read More: Here Are 6 of the Ugliest Animals in the World

Blobfish Facts

(Credit: Erikee/Shutterstock)

Where Do Blobfish Live?

Blobfish reside in the deep waters off the coasts of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, typically at depths between about 2,000 and 4,000 feet. These deep-sea areas are characterized by cold temperatures and high pressures, conditions under which the blobfish's unique body composition allows it to thrive. The blobfish habitat is so remote and inhospitable to humans that blobfish encounters are mostly limited to deep-sea trawling expeditions.

What Do Blobfish Eat?

As bottom feeders, blobfish primarily consume anything that passes by, including small invertebrates, marine leftovers from dead organisms, and other organic material that falls from the upper layers of the ocean. Blobfish lead a largely sedentary life, relying on their buoyant bodies to efficiently float just above the seafloor, waiting for food to come their way. This low-energy lifestyle is well-suited to the sparse food available in the deep sea.

Can You Eat Blobfish?

Blobfish are not considered a delicacy, or even a viable food source, for humans. Making no mention of their unappetizing appearance and consistency, their deep-sea habitat makes them inaccessible to conventional fishers.

Are blobfish dangerous? Despite their somewhat creepy appearance, blobfish are completely harmless to humans. They have no teeth or apparent means of inflicting harm. And more importantly, they live at depths far beyond the reach of recreational divers. Finally, blobfish are passive creatures, fully adapted to a life of minimal exertion in the cold, high-pressure depths of the ocean.

Read More: Fish Can Count, Along with Other Animals

Are Blobfish Endangered?

Despite some reports to the contrary, it is currently unclear whether blobfish are an endangered species. However, they are potentially threatened by deep-sea fishing operations, which can inadvertently catch blobfish as bycatch.

How Many Blobfish Are Left in the World?

While the exact number of blobfish is hard to determine, the increasing impact of human activities on deep-sea ecosystems raises concerns about the blobfish's future.

The blobfish, often ridiculed for its unconventional appearance, is a remarkable creature that embodies the mystery and diversity of marine life. Far from just being the "ugliest animal in the world," the blobfish is a fascinating example of nature's adaptability to extreme environments.

So, as we continue to explore the depths of our oceans, let's remember the blobfish not only for its meme-worthy appearance, but also for its unique role in the vast marine ecosystem.

Read More: Do Fish Feel Pain?

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