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The Blobfish

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by

Elizabeth Hurley

on 17 December 2014

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Transcript of The Blobfish

Locomotion
The blobfish has very little mobility due to its lack of muscle. However, because of the blobfish’s jelly-like skin and absence of a swim bladder, it is able to float slightly above the ocean floor. For the reason the blobfish can only float along the bottom of the ocean, it eliminates many threats that the blobfish could likely encounter if it did not live as far under the ocean. Also, because the blobfish floats instead of swims, it does not exude all of its energy.
What is the Blobfish?
The Psychrolutes marcidusis, commonly known as the blobfish, is a deep sea fish from the Psychrolutidae family. The blobfish lives in the deep waters along the coasts of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. This fish is approximately 30 centimetres in length and weighs between 20-25 pounds. Also, the blofish can have a lifespan of anywhere from 100-130 years because of this species' extremely slow growth and reproduction rates. The slow growth and reproduction rates are caused by the cold temperature, little food supply, low oxygen and low light levels of the deep sea which the blobfish inhabit.
Habitat
Blobfish are deep sea fish found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. They inhabit the coasts of central Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania and live at depths between 600 metres to 1200 metres where the pressure is up to 120 times higher than it is on the surface.
Food and Digestion
The blobfish does not hunt or actively seek food out; rather, it simply consumes anything that comes near it. A blobfish’s density is slightly lighter than water which allows it to float across the ocean floor consuming anything that it is able to catch throughout the day. For the reason that these fish live so far under the ocean their diet is relatively small. Most blobfish eat mollusks, tiny snails that live on the ocean floor, sea urchins and organic debris.
The blobfish has a very small digestive system compared to most species of fish; however, the process of breaking down food in the body is very similar. The digestion of food starts in the mouth where the blobfish typically swallows its food whole; the teeth are used to capture the food instead than chewing it. Next, the food is sent down the esophagus and to the stomach where the food is churned and mechanically broken down. The broken down food is then sent into the blobfish’s one intestine where the nutrients and water from the food are absorbed and sent into cells throughout the body. Other than water, it is very important that the blobfish retains protein from the food that they eat because it helps them grow and store energy. Finally, the food is excreted through the anus at the bottom of the fish. Overall, the blobfish have very few digestive organs because their habitat and small diet makes it unnecessary for them to have a complex system to digest their food.

Where It Fits In?
Even though blobfish live far below the ocean, they have a large role in the ecosystem along with other species of deep sea fish. Biodiversity is extremely important to sustain an ecosystem and all species play a major role in maintaining the health of the planet. Each species on earth depends on the services that other species provide in its environment to guarantee survival. In this case, the blobfish helps maintain the population of small deep sea creatures such as; crabs, mollusks, urchins, snails, worms, crustaceans and shellfish. By maintaining the populations of these creatures, the blobfish are making sure that these species do not overpopulate, which could possibly cause a domino effect in the environment.
It's a Baby!
Just like most species of deep sea fish, the blobfish have an extremely slow rate of reproduction. This is mostly likely due to the fact that the blobfish’s growth and aging rate is also very slow. After mating the male blobfish will leave the female and she will lay between 9,000 and 108,000 small pink-coloured eggs. The female will make her nest in a hole on the ocean floor to have a steady stream of food while protecting her eggs. Female blobfish float above their eggs so they are able to clean them daily. The female blobfish typically stay in groups and remain immobile until the eggs hatch. The disadvantage to this method of reproduction is that there is a low survival rate because the mother cannot take care of all her offspring. Also, there is a possibility that the eggs will be picked up by the nets of fishermen.

The Blobfish
Classification
Kingdom:
Animalia

Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Scorpaeniformes
Family:
Psychrolutidae
Genus:
Psychrolutes
Species:
Psychrolutes marcidus
Ancestry/Relatives
Blobfish come from the Psychrolutes genus in the Psychrolutidae family. There is very little information about this family of fish because most species within the family live hundreds of metres below the ocean. However, there are 40 known species within the family and 11 known species within the genus, which are mostly fatheads or fathead sculpins, including the blobfish. These species of fish resemble tadpoles; they have very large heads and bodies with small, flat tails. Common relatives of the blobfish include; the Macquarie Blobfish (Ebinania macquariensis), the Australian Blobfish (Ebinania australiae) and the Western Blobfish, (Psychrolutes occidentalis).
Physical Characteristics
Blobfish are typically a pinkish-grey colour and can grow to a maximum of approximately 30 centimetres. These fish have extremely large heads and bodies with small fins that remain close to their body which taper down to small, flat tails and give the fish an appearance similar to an oversized tadpole. Blobfish also have bright pink lips that extend across their entire face, a bulbous nose which falls over its top lip and two bulging black eyes on either side of its head which give the fish a droopy, saggy exterior. This droopiness is caused by the blobfish’s lack of muscle. For the reason that these fish live so far under the ocean, they are unable to survive with any sort of muscle or skeleton because of the pressure. Unlike most species of fish the blobfish does not have a swim bladder. This is because the pressure that the blobfish live in would cause the swim bladder to collapse therefore making it impossible for the fish to live with a skeleton. Finally, the blobfish has jelly-like flesh and a mucus-like substance which allows them to stay buoyant without a swim bladder.
Moving Stuff Around
The circulatory system of a blobfish is very similar to that of other deep sea species of fish. The blobfish has a single, closed circulatory system. This means that the blood is contained within the vessels and passes through the heart only once when circulating through the body. In the blobfish’s circulatory system, the blood travels from the heart to the gills where oxygen is absorbed and carbon dioxide is released. From the gills, the blood flows throughout the body and then returns back to the heart for the cycle to continue.
The blobfish’s respiratory system uses a process called countercurrent flow to obtain oxygen because it does not have lungs. Countercurrent flow occurs when the water and blood within the body of the fish go in opposite directions across the gills to diffuse as much oxygen into the blood as possible. By the water and blood flowing in opposite directions, it causes the water to give up little oxygen which ensures that the blood is always coming in contact with oxygenated water. Once water enters the blood of the blobfish, it will begin to flow in the opposite direction of non-oxygenated blood. The non-oxygenated blood will quickly come in contact with the water which causes the water to diffuse its oxygen into the blood. The new oxygenated blood will then be sent throughout the blobfish to maintain its bodily functions. Finally, the non-oxygenated water will leave the body of the blobfish to become re-oxygenated and the cycle continues.

Need to Know
Unfortunately, due to deep sea trawling the blobfish is an endangered species. Deep sea trawling is a type of industrial fishing in which large nets with heavy weights are dragged along the ocean floor picking up everything in its path. The blobfish's lack of muscle makes it impossible for them to escape the nets. Once they reach the surface, blobfish lose their "human-like" features because of the change in pressure and are typically discarded along with other fish that were accidentally caught. This is a serious issue not only harmful to the blobfish population, but also to the entire deep sea ecosystem.
Ebinania macquariensis
Ebinania australiae
Psychrolutes occidentalis
Bibliography
Websites
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/in-defense-of-the-blobfish-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-as-ugly-as-you-think-it-is-6676336/?no-ist
http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Fathead-Psychrolutes-aka-Mr-Blobby/
https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/gory-details/worlds-ugliest-animal-contest-took-blobfish-out-water
http://sites.psu.edu/chenedrcl/2013/10/24/the-blobfish/
http://www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/biology/gas-exchange/revise-it/gas-exchange-in-fish
http://www.ecomare.nl/en/encyclopedia/organisms/animals/fish/fish-biology/reproduction-of-fish/
https://www.marine-conservation.org/what-we-do/program-areas/how-we-fish/destructive-fishing/
By: Elizabeth Hurley
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