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Today I Learned That Blobfish is Actually Edible and Not That Ugly

Blobfish or Psychrolutes marcidus is a deep-sea fish that has become a meme because of its super ugly appearance. The fish is commonly known to have a face that resembles a grumpy big-nosed bald fat old man with pink and oily skin. Blobfish was named the ugliest animal in the world back in 2013 by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

However, a living Blobfish is actually not that ugly. The popular meme which circulates on the internet is based on a picture of a dead Blobfish specimen.

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When it is alive, Blobfish looks like any other fish. It has a big head with a big mouth and a wide pectoral fin. The fish is not wide or droopy, and it has no nose. Its head also appears to be covered some sort of in thorns, not smooth like in the memes.

A living Blobfish definitely still does not look pretty. However, it is closer to our imagination when it comes to how a deep-sea fish should look like.

Blobfish alive

Why does a dead Blobfish look blobby?

The extreme physical difference between dead and living Blobfish is not caused by decomposition. A dead Blobfish becomes deformed due to difference in pressure.

Blobfish are normally found below the waves off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. According to Smithsonian Mag, the fish lives between 600 and 1,200 meters beneath the ocean surface.

A human without special deep-sea diving equipment or a submarine will not be able to survive down there due to extreme pressure. Your body will be crushed if you swim too deep.

On the surface of the sea, we are being "pressed down" by the air all around us with a force of 14.7 psi. That's about 14.7 pound-force per square inch in freedom unit. This pressure is also measured as one atmosphere (1 atm).

One atmosphere is also the pressure caused by the weight of a 10 m water column. Thus, a fish swimming at 10.3 m underwater experiences a pressure of about 2 atmospheres (1 atm of air plus 1 atm of water).

Blobfish, which lives up to 1,200 meters deep, would experience an extreme pressure of approximately 121 atm or 121 times higher than it is at the surface. In other words, Blobfish's appearance looks normal when it is subjected to high pressure.

When it is brought up to the surface by the fishermen, the pressure will suddenly decrease, and the Blobfish would only be pressed by 1 atm, and thus the body expands.

This fish has a special body that can withstand the crushing pressure of the deep sea. Blobfish don’t really have a skeleton and muscle. The body is made of gelatinous jelly-like flesh. The only way to survive under the extreme pressure of the deep sea is to have water itself as your structural support.

You can think of Blobfish as a squished sponge. Your hand acts as the water, which applies pressure to the sponge and gives the sponge a slimmer body. When you let go, the sponge will expand, and thus you get the fat ugly Blobfish.

The pressure difference is also the reason why astronauts wear special suits. In space, the atmospheric pressure is zero. Your body which looks normal under 1 atmosphere, will bloat just like the Blobfish if you go to outer space without a pressured suit.

Is Blobfish edible?

Apparently, Blobfish is edible and tasty. At first, experts speculated that Blobfish may not be edible because it has no muscle, as you would be eating mostly a big blob of gelatin. However, as reported by Daily Mail Australia on September 25th, 2019, Alex Stollznow, 33, who works at the Sydney Fish Markets, tried eating the ugly-looking creature.

'As far as I know, I'm the only person in existence to try it,' Mr. Stollznow told Daily Mail Australia.

According to Mr. Stollznow, who fillet and blowtorch the Blobfish, the fish tastes rich and sweet. It tasted like butter-poached lobster tail, and the flesh was particularly nice. He also said that he had to try little bits at a time in case it was poisonous.

For fun trivia, a Blobfish made a brief appearance in the popular Japanese manga, One Piece, chapter 654. The main character, Luffy, refers to the fish as an "old man," and he would like to eat Blobfish with mayonnaise.

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