Lonely Planet Writer

Is this the world’s ugliest creature? Meet Bob the blobfish who is charming fans at a Japanese aquarium

A wonderful example of the fish voted the world’s ugliest animal has a new home at an aquarium in Japan, and we actually think he’s adorable. Bob the blobfish is delighting visitors to Aquamarine Fukushima, after he was accidentally trapped in May in a gill net set off the coast of Rausu, Hokkaido, at a depth of 2460 to almost 4000 feet.

Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima
Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima

Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) are an inedible fish, and they are rarely spotted because they inhabit the deep ocean and are mainly found in the northern Pacific Ocean and off the coasts of Japan and California. While in the sea, the creatures have jelly-like, amorphous pink flesh, because fish living at that depth tend to have minimal skeletons to combat the extreme pressure of being in such deep water.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described the fish as a “big, blobby tadpole, just a mass of pale, jelly-like flesh with puffy, loose skin, a big nose and beady, staring eyes.” It was named the world’s ugliest animal in 2013 by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima
Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima

Koji Matsuzaki, senior aquarist at Aquamarine Fukushima, is responsible for Bob’s care, and he explained to Lonely Planet that the lighting in his tank is kept dim to mimic the deep sea and the water temperature is kept to about two degrees. While visitors are flocking to see him, poor Bob is unused to all the attention. “Because he is so timid, he is always hidden in the shadow of the rock,” says Koji, adding that combating the fish’s shyness is a challenge.

Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima
Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima

Koji also defends Bob against the “ugly” tag, because his appearance in the tank is quite different to when he was a mass at the bottom of the sea. After Bob was captured, lots of “spines” formed on his skin when he was pulled up from the deep. “As you know, the fish are grotesque in appearance when they are caught in the bottom of trawling nets,” he says. “Visitors are saying, ‘which part of the fish is ugly?’ because live blobfish are so cute with a big head, little eyes and a lot of beard.”

Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima
Bob the Blobfish lives in a Japanese aquarium. Image: Aquamarine Fukushima

It is believed that Bob is the only live blobfish con display in an aquarium in the world, and we’re sure that he is just about to garner legions of fans thanks to his distinguished looks. To visit the aquarium’s website, see here.