Episode 157 – Blobfish: Blobby Fisher

“…and today we’re talking about a waterlogged football with eyes and a taste for shrimp. But more on that later.”

The blobfish might be the subject of cruel internet memes for many a year, but that digital ridicule may be unduly bestowed upon our deep-sea friend. He may look goofy, but that’s just because he’s far outside his natural habitat. Living at the bottom of the ocean, the blobfish actually has a pretty remarkable way of keeping it all together here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Blobfish

The blobfish are your typical fish shape with fin profile similar to a sea bass. Though the have more rounded fins. Their dorsal fins run down the length of their backs coming to a palm-shaped tail-fin. They also have broad elephant ear style pectoral fins.

Unlike a seabase, they have a large dome or bell-shaped head with a large mouth that’s positioned toward the bottom of their face. They also have large eyes that peer into the abyss of the sea, searching in vain for a scrap of light. 

They come in lighter pale colors like ashy grey to pale pink.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words measure up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We do have a new Measure Up intro from Nora!


  • 30 cm (12 in)
  • How many blobfish would it take to get from New Zealand’s South Island to the Antipodes Islands.
  • Hint: New Zealand is made up of more than 700 islands.
  • 1,848,000 blobfish. The Antipodes Islands are 350 miles from South Island.


  • 600 – 1,200 m (2,000 – 3,900 ft)
  • How many blobfish living depths go into the length of New Zealand along it’s north-north-east axis?
  • Hint: New Zealand is a long narrow country with two main islands. South Island has a spine of snow capped Alps that we’ve come to know and love in the Lord of the Rings. 
  • 1,346 blobfish. New Zealand is 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) long.

Fast Facts About the Blobfish

The blobfish troll the bottom of the ocean’s desolate rocky plains around the waters of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. 

The blobfish has the unique hunting style of sitting motionless while thinking about nothing at all. They’re covered in little protrusions that may help them look like coral or rocks and they just wait around pondering the same inquiries that a rock might. And just when the blobfish is about to forget it’s own existence to join the great multitude of ocean detritus, a piece of edible matter, usually in the form of a crustacean, sonters past its face and gets eaten. 

Another event that may disturb the blobfish’s dissociation might be an ocean trawling fishing vessel that catches the blobfish by mistake, though the acidic nature of blobfish flesh makes it unwanted bycatch for fishermen. 

The blobfish is thrown back, but not before the harsh lask or pressure of the surface turns them into that coveted ocean detritus. Now all that’s left is to sink to the sea floor, to feed the kin of the crabs the blobfish once zealously gobbled up. 

Major Fact: False Frumps

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve likely seen a picture of the blobfish. You’ve even likely seen a plush toy that looks like the blobfish. Good Mythical Morning called it the ugliest animal ever.

But the reality is that we don’t have any pictures of a blobfish in its natural state. This is because it lives almost 4,000 feet below the surface at 120 times the pressure at sea level. The only time we’ve ever really seen a blobfish is when they get caught in deep-sea fishermen’s nets and are brought to the surface.

Going from 120 atms to 1 does things to a living thing – what kind of things, you ask? Blob kinds of things.

Under Pressure

Living at such high pressures means that using a gas bladder for buoyancy like most fish wouldn’t be very effective. Instead, the blobfish’s body is made of a gelatinous material that is slightly less dense than the water around it. Rather than having a real skeleton, it uses the water around it as its own structural support.

Because of this, it can hover just above the ocean floor without having to swim. It doesn’t really have any muscle, so it’s pretty important that it doesn’t have to swim.

The side effect of this is that, while the water pressure keeps its jell-o body looking trim and slim like a normal-ish fish, not having that pressure means that the blobfish physically and mentally has a meltdown – making him look like a frumpy Jim Henson muppet.

Needless to say, all of the pictures we have of the blobfish are of dead blobfish that have basically meltploded.

On the flip side, this jelly body allows it to live and look like a regular fish in a place that would turn you into some sort of point of singularity.

Ending: So stay at your depth, keep your insides together, and have a cold bath like the blobfish here in LDT.

Episode 153 – Blanket Octopus: Let the Octopus Win

“…Today we’re talking about a cephalopod that wears a beautiful gown. But more on that later.”

The ocean is home to many a strange and wondrous creature, but few are so strange as the blanket octopus. Worthy of its name, the blocktopus drifts and flutters with dazzling colors across the pelagic seas. But unfurling your snuggie has consequences in the deep blue, so the blanket octopus needs to have some improvised weapons at its disposal. But that’s just how you survive here in LDT.

Description of the Blanket Octopus

The blanket octopus has a high degree of sexual dimorphism in terms of size and look. They both have the typical octopus head and arm shape with arms growing to double their total length. Males have one longer arm, but more on that later.

Four of the eight female legs are webbed and that webbing can be longer than the length over her body.

Like other octopuses, they come in many colors and can change colors for camouflage. 

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words measure up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro so that means we get to hear from an animal and Carlos has to guess what it is.

  1. Alpaca
  2. Deer
  3. Llama
  4. Camel

Female Length

  • 2 meters
  • How many female octopuses go into the length of a galleon?
  • Hint: The São João Baptista, also called the Botafogo, was a portuguese war ship which was considered the biggest in the world at the time in the 16th century. The ship is famous for its bombardment of the La Goletta, in the conquest of Tunis in 1535.
  • 24.3 blanket octopuses. Galleons were around 160 feet for 500 tons. The Botafogo was 1,000 tons.

Male Length

  • 2.4 cm
  • How many male octopuses go into the automobile mileage record?
  • Hint: The record is held by Irvin Gordon, of Long Island, in a 1966 Volvo P1800. A retired teacher, he bought the car in 1966 for $4,150. He loves to drive and said he would drive to Montreal or Maine just for dinner. He said the car has never broken down or failed to start because he followed care directions like changing the oil after certain mileage. Gordon predicted that the car would outlast him in the summer before his death in 2018.
  • 217,949,233,392 octopuses. Gordon drove the car 3,250,257 miles.

Fast Facts about the Blanket Octopus

The reason for the vast difference in size between the males and females is reproduction. Larger females that can carry more large eggs. Large eggs eliminate the threat from small egg thieves and larger numbers of eggs increase the chance that some will make it to adulthood. 

While most octopuses start as tiny plankton that travel with the currents until they get big enough to settle down on the ocean floor, in reefs, or among rocks, blankets continue to wander the seas into adulthood.

Forsaking the shelter of rock caves comes with its dangers. Sea nomads are vulnerable to predation from the large animals that dominate the open ocean, including dolphins, blue sharks, billfish, orcas, and tuna. However, the blanket boys and girls know it’s dangerous to go alone and take a few defense mechanisms. Like Linus, females never leave home without their trusty blanket. They’re webbed arms can drag behind them like the flowing train of a gown, increasing their appearance of their size. Small predators need not apply.

The blanket can be rolled up and suddenly unfurled for maximum jump scare potential. But if a predator is not threatened by this caped crusader, she can do something else with it. Evidence suggests that they can detach the blanket like a lizard’s tail to confuse and placate attackers. This skill is in addition to other octopus-style defenses like ink sacks and color changing skin.

Major Fact: Let the Blanket Octopus Win

Octopuses are famous for their methods of defending themselves. Some use camouflage, most use ink, others even mimic their enemies. But the chewbacctopus has a penchant for ripping arms out of sockets.

It uses arms in two different ways.

First, the males—those poor tiny little fellas—to reproduce, they’ll put their “genetic material” into a specialized arm called a hectocotylus and rips it off to give to the female. She can then use it to fertilize her eggs at her leisure.

Second, the females will find Portugese man o’ wars (men o’ war?) and rip off their arms. They’re actually immune to man o’ war venom, so they’ll use those arms as defensive weapons.

It will attack man o’ war arms its four dorsal arms. Researchers aren’t sure if chewbacctopus uses the arms for offense as well. It could use the man o’ war venom to catch prey.

Ending: So spread your blankets, use arms to your advantage, and save your hectocotylus for someone special like chewbacctopus here in LDT.


Thank you to Casy for creating our theme song. To hear more of Casy’s music search Casy Michelle on Youtube

Thank you to Brian for creating the episode art. See more of Brian’s art at xNamaru on Instagram or Twitter.

Episode 143 – Barreleye: The Spookiest Fish

“…and today we’re talking about a mysterious organic, deep-diving submarine. But more on that later.”

Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, there sits an alien monster fish that stares up straight through its own skull to spy prey: the barreleye. How does it do this? By being one of the weirdest creatures alive, even for deep-sea animals—and that’s saying something! But looking strange is just a fortunate side effect of being an empty-headed harbinger of jellyfish death from below here in LDT.

Episode 140 – Mako Shark: Hot-Blooded Hotrod

Sharks are a primordial design. A torpedo built to catch and shred prey. These cold black eyes, like a doll’s eyes, are nothing but dark pools of basic, rudimentary instinct, right? Well some sharks are built differently than their kin. The mako shark is one of a few fish with an interesting adaptation that is foreign among fish. These hot-blooded predators of the temperate ocean have an ability that gives them an edge against their most elusive food sources. Sometimes the only way to survive is chase down and catch Life, Death, and Taxonomy…

Episode 139 – Giant Manta Ray: A Focused Fish

“…and today we’re talking about a buccal pumping pup sucking histotroph in huge chunks. That sentence will only get grosser when you know what those words mean. But more on that later…”

Sometimes the biggest giants are the gentlest giants. But this gentle giant is also a genius giant. While the oceanic manta ray might not be smarter than a fifth-grader, it does use its brain in ways that would make other fish extremely sad and jealous if they had any feelings. In fact, it’s those feelings that make the manta ray a prime candidate for smartest swimming blanket. But when you’re the biggest fish in the pond, you can afford a little self-awareness here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 131 – Eastern Emerald Elysia: An Animalian Rebel

“…And today we’re talking about a naughty slug that doesn’t play by the rules. But more on that later.”

Hi, LDT listeners. You’re about to hear something special: Life, Death and Taxonomy’s first ever theme song. We’ve long set the mood with free to use web found music, but thanks to our friend Casy, we now have a song that is unique to us! Help us show our appreciation by checking out more of Casy’s music at her YouTube channel. Click the link on LDTaxonomy.com or search Casy Michelle on YouTube! Let’s get into the episode!

Some animals just prefer not to play by the rules. Animals change lanes all the time. Bats are mammals that fly. Sharks are fish that give birth to live young. But most animals stick to their kingdom, except for a particular sea slug. When all others spend their lives hunting and gathering for sustenance, this slug goes out of bounds to borrow a technique. But creatures that prove that some rules are made to be broken often find the most success in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.