We know about beauty contests and cute baby contests, but the competition really worth celebrating is the Ugliest Animal Contest, sponsored by the British-based Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
There were plenty of candidates, from the proboscis monkey, with its large nose, to the Dromedary jumping slug, a slug with a hump on its back known for jumping to escape from predators.
But when more than 3,000 votes were counted last month, the winner, with 795 votes, was the blobfish, a gelatinous fish that lives at great depths off the coast of Australia.
As far as I can tell, nobody asked the blobfish what he thought of this honor. But there was an important theme to the contest. With an estimated 200 species going extinct each day, the ugly animals need special attention, according to Simon Watt, president of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, who told The Guardian newspaper:
“We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time, and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight, but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten.”
I love that British term “minger,” defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a male or female who fell out of the ugly tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down.”
Adam Gabriel of “Epic Wildlife” took note of the contest and posted his own video on YouTube, which helps us understand the blobfish and his motivations.
When you have time, listen to the comedians who nominated other species for the Ugly Animal Contest. I think you’ll find the following videos educational as well as amusing:
- Blobfish (Paul Foot)
- Proboscis monkey (Ellie Taylor)
- British bats (Simon Watt)
- Greater short-horned lizard (John Hastings)
- Flightless dung beetle (Sarah Bennetto)
- Kakapo (Steve Mould)
- Pig-nosed turtle (Greg Foot)
- Titicaca ‘scrotum’ water frog (Iszi Lawrence)
- Dromedary jumping slug (Tom Toal)
- Axolotl (Helen Arney)
- European common eel (Rob Wells)
Finally, I have to reflect on the photo of the blobfish, a face that launched a thousand YouTube video players. There are pictures of blobfish and then there is THE PICTURE of a blobfish. This picture has been repeated again and again, apparently without permission, and many of the photo credits are simply wrong.
How THE PICTURE came to be taken during a research expedition is described by Mark McGrouther, collection manager for ichthyology at the Australian Museum. By the time of the Ugliest Animal Contest, the blobfish, known as Mr. Blobby, was already quite famous and beloved in Australia, where he had his own Facebook page and Twitter account. For more about Mr. Blobby, check out this blog on the website of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of blobfish by now, check out “The Blobfish Song” by Friday Morning Freak House.