All About Blob Fish

Not many people ever see a blob fish. That’s because they live in very deep water, almost on the bottom of the ocean. To put it bluntly, blob fish are not very attractive. But the only people who ever really get to see them are fishermen who accidentally catch them in their nets when sweeping the ocean floor.

The blob fish or Blob Sculpin, originated in the ocean off of the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. Where they live, at around eight hundred meters, the pressure is eighty times greater than what it is at sea level. That means that the gas bladders of most fish are not going to work for them. But this fish is really just a large mass of gel, kind of like looking at Jello(TM) but larger and with eyes, nose and mouth. The fish averages around two feet long.

Because it is all gel, this fish has a density that is less than water. This lets him float above the floor of the sea without needing to swim. That’s good, because a blob fish has no muscles at all. It looks like a big lump of jelly but it has a triangular face with an expression that is kind of like a scowl or frown. The blob fish feeds by just sitting in the water and waiting for something edible to come by. It eats mostly sea urchins, mollusks and crustaceans.

Blob fish were first described in 1978, very recently in terms of fish identification. The first blob fishes in reproduction were discovered in 2000 on the Gorda Escarpment off the California coast. The fish were in an area where other species of fish and octopus were also breeding. These fishes were watched at several different locations and levels by a remotely operated vehicle, and have been studied every year since they were found.

When first spotted, the blob fish was overseeing nests that contained 9000 to 108,000 pink-colored eggs. The nests all had brooding fish either sitting on their eggs or touching them. Other nest sites in rougher territory looked to be unattended, but the eggs were completely clean, which was thought to mean that brooding fish either sat on the eggs or cleaned them frequently.

The dozens of blob fish and their nests were quite close to one another. Eggs would be on neighboring rocks with sometimes only a meter in-between the families. None of the fish, whether with their eggs or not, showed any fear at all of the remote vehicle. Scientists are still trying to determine why such reproductive hot spots exist. At present it is believed to have to do with cold seeps, which make the water in these regions warmer and supply a steady stream of food.