A Deep Dive on the Blobfish


Aquamarine Fukushima (アクアマリンふくしま)

Live blobfish located in Shiretoko Peninsula, eastern Hokkaido, Japan.

The blobfish, more scientifically known as Psychrolutes Marcidus, is a deep-sea fish of the family Psychrolutidae. They are found off the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania, as well as in the waters of New Zealand somewhere between 2,000-4,000 feet below sea level. The pressure that deep is up to 120 times higher than it is at the surface. Because of this they are very rarely encountered live. Yes, that’s right. Those photos of the “ugly” blobfish are actually dead blobfishes. They die at the air pressure levels at sea level which leads to living blobfish being extremely under-photographed.

You’re probably wondering why this is. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, blobfish are made of very few soft bones and muscles, and they lack a swim bladder. A swim bladder is the gas-filled internal organ that allows other bony fish to control their ability to stay afloat in water. It’s a bit of a dangerous part of a deep-sea fish because changes in pressure could expand the swim bladder which forces the other internal organs out of the mouth.

Blobfish on the other hand rely on their gelatin-like flesh, which is less dense than seawater, to stay afloat. They also have very little built-in structural support meaning that the deep-sea pressure is what is holding them together. When pulled to the surface, blobfish encounter extreme pressure drops, and the anatomy that works at great depths turns on them, expanding and falling. This turns them into a gooey mess that looks like the blobfish we all know.

In reality, when blobfish are in their natural environment they look just like any other fish. The blobfish is a very interesting creature that we still know very little about and I hope people will see them as more than just an ugly fish.



Evon, Dan. “What Does a Blobfish Look like in Its Natural Environment?” Snopes.com, Snopes, 28 Apr. 2021, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/blobfish-natural-environment/.
Fearnley, Kirstin. “Weird & Wonderful Creatures: The Blobfish.” American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1 June 2016, https://www.aaas.org/news/weird-wonderful-creatures-blobfish.
Keartes, Sarah. “Blobfish Might Be a Gooey Mess out of Water, but Check out a Living One! (Video).” Earth Touch News Network, 19 Oct. 2016, https://www.earthtouchnews.com/wtf/wtf/blobfish-might-be-a-gooey-mess-out-of-water-but-check-out-a-living-one-video/.
Lidz, Franz. “Behold the Blobfish.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, Nov. 2015, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/behold-the-blobfish-180956967/.
Magazine, Smithsonian. “In Defense of the Blobfish: Why the ‘World’s Ugliest Animal’ Isn’t as Ugly as You Think It Is.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 13 Sept. 2013, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/in-defense-of-the-blobfish-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-as-ugly-as-you-think-it-is-6676336/.