Tuesday, September 17, 2013


“You Can Do Anything, As Long As It’s Nothing": Ballad of the World's Ugliest Creature

He drifts through the murky marine deeps, his gelatinous body undulating with the pressure of the sea. He is lighter than water, so there is no need to swim. He goes with the flow, and you could almost call his acquiescence elegant. Almost.

The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus, or Lethargian) is too ugly for elegance, and too idle for admiration. He just bobs along, swallowing hapless crustaceans that paddle too close to his mouth. He has no muscles, and his fins would be an afterthought, except that down here in the Doldrums, there is no thinking at all. “Laughing is against the law," Norton Juster wrote, and “smiling is permitted only on alternate Thursdays.”

Despite his lack of qualities, the blobfish is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame (though you’d never know it from his expression.) He has just been crowned the world’s ugliest creature by The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, an organization “dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children.” In search of a mascot, the Society invited the public to vote for the ugliest animal, and the blobfish triumphed by almost 10,000 votes. His victory is quite a feat, considering the repulsiveness of his adversaries—like the frog whose Latin name translates to “aquatic scrotum” and the beetle that lives in elephant poop.

Though we cannot deny the Society’s good intentions, we must ask: Does the blobfish deserve to be preserved? After all, he bobbed onto the endangered list because he’s too lazy to avoid deep-sea trawling nets. Worse, he’s evil.

If you make your way down, down, down 1,200 meters below the ocean’s surface off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, and New Zealand, the blobfish will slip down your collar and slide around your ribs, serenading you in dulcet tones: “You can do anything, as long as it’s nothing. Everything as long as it isn’t anything. So, don’t say there’s nothing to do in the Doldrums.” As you drift to sleep, a wicked grin will ooze across his gelatinous face (only if it’s an alternate Thursday), and you, too, will be endangered.


Previously: “Last Night I Drempt of Leo”: DiCaprio’s Oeuvre, Reviewed by a 15-Year-Old

Lara Ehrlich is a writer and editor in Boston. You can follower her on twitter @LaraEhrlich.

11 Comments / Post A Comment


Looks like Ziggy.


@hallucinas THAT is EXACTLY what I thought when I first saw this picture on NPR's page!


Cool post! Love it!@m


Well this is deliciously creepy.


among the many reasons I love you. thanks for the Phantom Tollbooth reference!


Just saw this image on Slate, where it has been showing up continuously in my sidebar for at least the last week. Thought to myself "I am so tired of that damn picture." Navigate to the Hairpin.



@cameralucida Aww, Blobfish just wants to be friends...


I must say I don't appreciate this blobfish hate. Also, the picture of the fish out of water isn't an accurate representation. Underwater they are quite adorable.

So there.


Okay Google image search is not helping with underwater blobfish pics here...


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll
It is pretty cute, in a painfully dull sort of way.


This isn't great but you get the idea.

I just don't think it's fair to judge its appearance out of water when its body is designed to be deep in the ocean. Not sure why I'm getting so defensive about this..but still..!

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