By Richard Johnston
The gelatinous fishy mass won a global online vote to become the poster animal for the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, the aim of which is to increase awareness around conservation, and to provide a platform for the endangered and less-cuddly creatures of the world. The winner was announced at the British Science Festival in Newcastle.
With sad eyes set into a sorrowful face, the blobfish is perhaps the ideal emblem for the society. “If you have an interest in conservation it’s pretty much like being kicked in the face every day. You open up the newspaper and it’s a list of what has died today – that’s effectively how conservation works” says Simon Watt, biologist, comedian, and President for Life of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
The blobfish was selected from an ark of eleven finalists as part of a global online public vote on YouTube. The ugly animals were championed by comedians, broadcasters, and scientists including Helen Arney and Greg Foot, making rousing pleas in support of their repugnant reptiles and misshapen mammals.
Ultimately, the Society aims to make conservation fun and educational - highlighting why that species matters, what is wrong with them, and what we can do to help.
The top five creatures in the online vote were:
5. The proboscis monkey – also known as the long-nosed monkey, or sometimes the penis-faced monkey. Despite occupying the same threatened habitat as the media-obsessed orangutan, the proboscis monkey, with its distinctive pendulous nose, has a hard time competing for the public’s affections.
4. The Titicaca water frog – also known as the scrotum frog (a theme is appearing!). Found only in Lake Titicaca in South America, it’s the world’s largest truly aquatic frog. The scrotum-resembling folds in its skin enable it to stay submerged, drawing oxygen from the water via a large skin surface area. It is on the endangered red list, but its future is in jeopardy due to a penchant for Titicaca frog smoothie among locals in downtown Lima.
3. The axolotl – also known as the Mexican salamander, or Mexican walking fish. This fascinating creature can be found around the world in research laboratories, where scientists study this amphibian’s ability to regenerate limbs. However, wild axolotls are only found in Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City, and are classified as critically endangered due to urbanisation.
2. The kakapo – also known as the owl parrot is the only flightless, nocturnal parrot in the world. The kakapo is also the heaviest parrot, building its nests on the ground. Native to New Zealand, kakapo numbers declined as predatory mammals were introduced. Now only around 150 individuals remain in the wild – kept on predator-free isolated islands around New Zealand.
1. The blobfish - The blobfish is a jelly-like fish, found at depths of around 2000-4000 feet in the waters around Australia and Tasmania, and is rarely seen by humans. The blobfish is inedible, yet is threatened by deep-sea fishing and trawling. Current numbers of blobfish are not known - with minimal sightings in the last seven years, perhaps the Ugly Animal Preservation Society is too late and their new emblem has already been fished to extinction!