16 September 2013
Picture of the world's ugliest animal - the blobfish.

PHOTO: Kerryn Parkinson © NORFANZ Founding Parties

It’s not pretty, has been likened to a deep-sea Jabba the Hutt, and has recently been named the world’s ugliest animal. But to us the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus or ‘Psycho’ for short) is just as important as any other animal in the marine ecosystem.

At AFMA we care about all marine animals and this includes our friend the blobfish.  They were caught quite often in deep water trawl fishing gear around the South East Australian coast.  Some years ago, AFMA closed large areas of their habitat to protect them and other fish species such as orange roughy.  Blobfish are now a rare catch, which is a good thing.

The recent crowning of the blobfish by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society has put the spotlight on ugly animals being just as important as their cuter counterparts.

“The Ugly Animal Preservation Society is dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children,” it says on its website. “The panda gets too much attention.”

Simon Watt, the society’s president, said: “We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight, but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten.”

For those interested in where the blobfish fits in to the grand scheme of things, it is found off South -Eastern Australia at depths of between 600-1200 meters.  At that depth it is quite dark and water pressure is quite high, but this is where their ‘blobby’ appearance works in their favour. Their gelatinous body gives them natural buoyancy, rather than using a gas filled swim bladder like most other fish. So the trade-off is that they are quite sluggish in the water and feed by simply opening their mouth as they float on by.  Sounds a cool way live!

Regardless of this award, at AFMA we believe it’s important to look after all the marine species, not just the ones that end up on our dinner plates:  ‘blobfish and chips’ probably wouldn’t be a big seller away!

For more information, contact the communications team communications@afma.gov.au.