With no muscle in its body, the blobfish looks like a gelatinous globule floating near the sea bed. It sometimes appears to have a human-like face with eyes, lips and a disproportionately big nose. If taken out of the water, it dries out and loses its human-like appearance. Also known as Psychrolutes marcidus, the animal belongs to the family Psychrolutidae, or fatheads.
The blobfish can grow up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length. A deep sea fish, it lives at depths of up to 2,700 feet (823 m) in the waters off the coasts of southeast Australia and Tasmania, although there have been few sightings of this peculiar creature because of the extreme depth of its habitat. Although its exact life expectancy is unknown, deep water fish generally tend to live longer than shallow water fish, with some deep sea species living for as long as 130 years because of their slow rate of reproduction, growth and aging.
Unlike most fish, the blobfish has no gas bladder to maintain buoyancy. Its gelatinous body and low density allows it to hover in water, which has a higher density. It has no muscle, so it rarely moves, and it spends most of its time floating in the same area. This preserves energy in its deep sea habitat, where there is little food available. Scientists believe that the fish does not hunt; instead, it opens its mouth and sucks in little organic particles that drift by.
The female lays thousands of eggs at once and stays near them until they hatch, creating a nest. She usually floats above the eggs or sometimes rests against them. Several females often nest near one another, a behavior for which the cause still is unknown.
Although the blobfish is inedible and not fished for food, it faces threats from over-fishing. It shares its living habitat with edible bottom trawlers such as crabs and lobsters, causing it to be picked up accidentally by fishermen. This problem is magnified because fishermen in the waters where it lives practice deep trawling, a fishing method in which the fishermen cast their nets deep to the bottom of the sea and drag them along the sea bed, using heavy gear before pulling up the nets. This animal sometimes gets trapped in these nets, along with other deep sea creatures, and scientists fear that it could become endangered if no measures are taken to preserve the species.