Blobbing their way to stardom
Above: BLAKE Ambassador Hiromi Beran (a.k.a. me!) meets a blobfish.
For the final creature feature, I present you with possibly the greatest of them all: the blobfish. If this species is unfamiliar to you, you are in for a treat. The blobfish, Psychrolutes microporos, is the most endearingly ridiculous inhabitant of the deep sea.
In its natural habitat more than a kilometre into the depths, the water pressure is about 120 times that experienced on land. This holds the shape of the blobfish and makes it look like a reasonably typical fish.
However, when brought to the surface, it blobs.
Above: A Blobfish blobbing.
- to melt into a lump of fish-shaped goo
- the result of taking a blobfish out of the deep sea
The jellylike body of the blobfish means that its density is slightly less than that of seawater, which allows it to remain buoyant even without a swimbladder, which would be crushed by the pressure of the deep sea. Little is known about its biology, but it is thought to burrow into the mud with eyes and mouth poking out, waiting for its victims.
The species was first described scientifically in 1995, but was discovered by the world after a joint New Zealand-Australia voyage to the Norfolk and Lord Howe islands on RV Tangaroa, the ship we are on right now in 2019. One of their finds was a blobfish named Mr. Blobby, and he and his fellows rose to prominence on social media with a survey photo, and gained yet more fame when their species won the world’s ugliest animal competition in 2013.
Above: Melanie and I meet a Toadfish!
However, less well known are the blobfish’s arguably more attractive relatives. The pale toadfish, Ambophthalmos angustus, shares all its blobby characteristics but with the added bonus of being dappled with beautiful dark spots. Fame is fickle.
Above: A Toadfish blobbing.