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Alas, Poor Blobby


Courtesy of NORFANZ/Kerryn Parkinson
The resemblance of the homely blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) to the cartoon character Ziggy is due to its gelatinous body structure, which allows this variety of fatheaded sculpin to survive half a mile beneath the waves off southeastern Australia. The blobfish is the lily of the undersea valley: It toils not; neither does it hunt. With a body that is less dense than the surrounding water, it simply bobs about, dining on whatever morsels drift by.

Blobfish have the misfortune to share their neighborhood with the equally pejoratively named slimehead (Hoplostethus atlanticus)—now better known by its more appetizing menu appellation, orange roughy. Blobfish are inedible, but tasty orange roughy—which can live more than 100 years—have been greatly overfished, earning the species an "avoid" rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. Blobfish end up as bycatch of bottom trawlers seeking orange roughy and may be heading toward extinction. "The Australian and New Zealand deep trawling fishing fleets are some of the most active in the world," University of York marine biologist Callum Roberts told the London Daily Telegraph. "So if you are a blobfish then it is not a good place to be." —Paul Rauber

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