Why The Blobfish Might Not Be The World’s Ugliest Animal After All

Published February 20, 2018
Updated April 3, 2019
Published February 20, 2018
Updated April 3, 2019

The blobfish was voted the ugliest animal in the world, but the truth is, he's pretty average.


Public DomainMr. Blobby, possibly the most famous of all blobfish.

If you’ve been on the internet in the past couple of years, you’ve probably seen a picture of something called a blobfish.

As the name might suggest, the blobfish is not what you’d call the most handsome of fish. In fact, it barely resembles a fish, looking instead like a large booger with fins. In 2013, the most famous blobfish, a specimen known as “Mr. Blobby” whose photo you see above, even became the mascot for the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

However, we have big news. It turns out that the ugly little blob that’s become so famous is actually not that ugly after all. In fact, underwater in his natural habitat, you probably couldn’t pick him out from the nearest tuna.

It’s only above sea level that he gets all blobby and gross, and even then it’s not his fault. He’s just suffering from something known as decompression damage.

Underwater Blobfish

Wikimedia CommonsA perfectly ordinary looking blobfish.

In order to survive in its high-pressure environment, the blobfish’s body has adapted over the years. It doesn’t really have a skeleton, in the usual sense of the word, and its flesh is extremely pliable.

These soft features allow it to survive under the extreme pressures that deep water has to offer. They also lack a swim bladder, an air-filled internal organ that most cartilaginous fish possess that allows them to control their buoyancy.

Without the presence of hard bones, or any sort of internal structural support, there’s nothing underwater holding the blobfish in its position except the pressure. So, when it’s brought up to the surface, where the pressure is roughly 1,000 times less than its natural environment, the fish “blobs out.” That is, its soft bones and jelly-like flesh appear to ooze as its structure is no longer held together.

In further defense of the blobfish, the effects of decompression damage work both ways. If a human were to travel without any sort of protection down to the habitat of the blobfish, they wouldn’t end up looking so hot either. In fact, they’d probably be worse looking than Mr. Blobby.

After learning about the blobfish, the “ugliest animal in the world”, check out the ugliest cat breeds ever. Then, read about the ugliest animals on Earth.

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