Jun 22, 2010

Oil spill affects lovable uglies too

When news reports of the Gulf oil spill talk about the effects on wildlife, they tend to concentrate on majestic birds and cuddly mammals. Unfortunately, environmental damage is one of the few things that doesn't discriminate against the ugly. Consider the Louisiana pancake batfish:

This batfish is a little guy, about as big as when you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger. It's not just weird to look at but has some unusual behavior as well: it hops around on fins that are almost like feet. The ichthyologist who discovered it told CNN:

"They're not like a flounder; they are much more mobile, more like a pancake with feet."

People are knitting washclothes to help oil-covered birds, but don't bother sending them to help the batfish - it lives on the seabed, a thousand feet or more deep, so getting covered by the surface oil is not its problem. Probably the biggest issue is the effect of the spill on the invertebrates at the bottom of the food chain that make up its diet.

Let's hope this species pulls through. A pancake with feet! I think we at Ugly Overload can agree that the world needs that just as much as it needs pelicans.

Your humble servant,


Steve Somers said...

Thanks for this, there is definitiely a deficit of attention being paid to the bottom feeding uglies in Louisiana.

In Real Life said...

Wow - that is a crazy-looking creature! A pancake with feet has just as much right to a clean, safe environment as the more beautiful creatures.

jenjen said...

Here's to the pancake. Having said that, I'm glad terrestrial pancakes do not have feet - otherwise I'd never catch them.

Arachnophile said...

There's nothing more ugly than what humans have done there I'm afraid. :(

Thanks for bringing attention to one of the many creatures struggling through this.