Blobfish, World's Ugliest Fish, Is in Danger of Extinction

Photo: NOAA [public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

Imagine if humans existed at the bottom of the sea, where the pressure is immense. We would probably resemble a squashed version of ourselves, with nonexistent necks and knuckles dragging on the sea floor. Or maybe we would just look like the blobfish. At depths of over 9,000 feet below, the blobfish floats around, casually eating whatever passes its way. Sources report that this laid-back fish is under threat from overfishing.

The blobfish looks like a gelatinous mass of frowning flesh. The pressure where it lives is about a dozen times the pressure on the surface, so the fish has adapted. Also known as Psychrolutes marcidus, the blobfish appears to propel itself without moving a muscle, dining on whatever floats its way. In fact, the female blobfish will float right above its eggs — and eat any hatchlings that happen to bob by.

Further, the blobfish may be one of nature’s most energy-frugal fishes. Its flesh is only slightly denser than water, so it does not expend any energy on swimming. It mostly lives off the deep waters of Australia and Tasmania and until recently was rarely seen by humans.

But now the blobfish is making an appearance, and unfortunately that may lead to its extinction. As deep-sea fishermen trawl the ocean floor for more delectable eats, they are dragging the fish to the surface. Ultimately, the fish’s sacrifice doesn’t even earn it a place on a dinner plate. The fish, which shrivels up when exposed to air, is completely inedible. Experts worry that the blobfish may soon face extinction.