I have trouble being on the same planet with these creatures, let alone go into the ocean with them. As Rachel puts it:
Many people are disgusted by the hagfish. These squirmy, eel-looking creatures are known primarily for two repellent traits: eating dying animals from the inside out, and oozing four cups of slime in a fraction of a second.
By Crom’s holy indifference!
Recently, scientists at the University of Guelph published a study that delves into the amazing–and cringingly awful–properties hagfish slime. Apparently, the slime is full of these long (6 inches!) sticky protein threads, which are good for clogging up a predator’s gills and happen to be as light and strong as spider silk.
If, as Rachel posits, this thread could one day lead to clothing, I would cry. A lot.
This is Cronenberg-level body horror at its worse. Cools story, though.
WIRED highlighted this little reason not to go into the water. Don’t stare at the hypnofish and do not partake of its flesh. Its poisonous. Also, it doesn’t cuttle and its not a fish. The whole thing is based on lies and deception.
I think I understand the allure of challenging yourself–of doing something just to test your endurance. Let’s just say that the idea of going into the dark depths of the sea, where your body does its damnedest to replace the air in your lungs with briney death, is not my idea of a sport. (The governing body fascinates me.)
He died of a pulmonary edema, the Times says:
Still, Mevoli shot to the surface under his own power, after a dive of 3 minutes 38 seconds. That’s when the scene turned nightmarish.
Mevoli ripped off his goggles, flashed the O.K. sign and attempted to complete the surface protocol that would make his attempt official by saying, “I am O.K.” But he wasn’t. His words were garbled, his eyes wide and blank. He tipped backward into the ocean and lost consciousness, which, while alarming, is not unheard-of in a sport in which almost all the top athletes have lost consciousness at one time or another, though usually for only a few seconds. Mevoli was not so fortunate.
Five safety divers, one of them an Australian paramedic and all certified in life support techniques, hefted him onto a nearby platform, where the event physician, Barbara Jeschke of Germany, went to work trying to revive him.
“There’s a problem with his lung,” shouted Marco Cosentino of Italy, one of the safety divers who meet the competitors at various stages to help bring them to the surface if they are in distress. They turned Mevoli onto his side, and blood began pouring from his mouth and pooling on the platform before dissipating into the sea.
I’m conflicted. Yes, the blobfish is ugly as sin and the off-chance that I’d see one is reason enough to stay out of the water. As reported all across the world, the Ugly Animal Preservation Society has voted the blobfish as the world’s ugliest endangered (or possibly threatened, in this case).
The thing is, as far as I can tell, the Ugly Animal Preservation Society is a traveling comedy show, made up of stand-up comics and associated acts. In most of the articles I’ve found, there is little mention of the fact that A) its a traveling comedy show B) they vote on a new animal every week.
At most, you’ll get a copy-and-paste of the first line two lines from the UAPS website:
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society is dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children. The panda gets too much attention.
So, I’m conflicted. The Ugly-Animal-of-the-Week bit is a great gimmick and, undoubtedly, raises awareness of rare and hideous creatures.
But the point, it seems, is more about raising ticket sales than awareness. And, you know, I’m fine with both. What gets me is the media treating this like it is news. The reporting is relatively content and humor free, neither acknowledging the purposeful silliness of it nor actually educating us about the blobfish. (To be fair, this CNN article posted on a local FOX affiliate’s site is better than most.) It bothers me my wee nerd brain.
So, here’s some things to know about the blobfish:
1. Its of the genus Psychrolutes and makes its living in the depths of the ocean between Australia and Tasmania, eating things within gulping distance
2. It may be threatened by deepwater trolling.
3. It doesn’t have much in the way of muscles, and most of its flesh is jelly-like, allowing it to live and thrive at crushing pressures.
Here are two things that reside at the bottom of the sea that I do not need to see in real life.
The first is this Sea Mousethat washed up in the UK.
Aphrodita aculeata (sea mouse) is actually a hermaphroditic worm, which really doesn’t help allay my fears, and not a mouse. The hairs are not hair (really, people, worms don’t have hair), but structures called called setae, which are more like bristles than mammalian hair. Earthworms have setae too, which help keep them from sliding backwards in their own filth (fun fact!). The genus is named Aphrodita after Aphrodite, natch, because they were thought to resemble female genitalia, which really, really makes you worry about the scientists who came up with the classification. (And now I’ve used up my relative clauses for this paragraph.)
The Aphrodite nomenclature never would have occurred to me. I get the mouse thing–it really does look like a waterlogged rodent some sort–but not the vulva thing.
Second is this PopSci article that suggests DARPA wants to create drones that lie in wait on the ocean’s floor. Unmanned “Upward Floating Payloads” is creepy enough to make sand vulva worms seem normal.
Here’s the lesson for today. Barnacles are crustaceans, related to lobsters and Sebastian the Crab from The Little Mermaid. They DO NOT sing warmed over romantic calypso tunes, however. Barnacles are hermaphodites. And will permanently cement themselves to objects as a base from which to filter food from the sea. They are, in short, clingy perverts with little culinary discretion.