Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus)
The blobfish is a deep sea fish of the family Psychrolutidae. It inhabits waters at depths of 600-1,200 m (2,000-3,900 ft) off the coasts of mainland Australia, from southern Queensland to southern Australia and Western Australia and Tasmania, as well as the waters of New Zealand (1).
It is usually shorter than 30 cm. It lives at depths where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient to maintain buoyancy (1). Instead, its flesh is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this lets the fish float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. The low density flesh changes the blobfish's shape when it is out of water (5).
Its relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats in front of it such as deep-ocean crustaceans.
The blobfish is often caught as bycatch in bottom trawling nets. Scientists fear that this could endanger the blobfish (3,4). The musician and author Michael Hearst featured "Blobfish" on his 2012 album Songs For Unusual Creatures (6) and created a blobfish episode for his PBS Digital series (7). In September 2013 the blobfish was voted the "World's Ugliest Animal", based on photographs of decompressed specimens, and adopted as the mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, in an initiative "dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children" (8,9).
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