Mola mola moladh molta

Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)


Other Names: Giant Sunfish, Mola, Mola Ocean Sunfish, Short Sunfish

An Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, at Punta Cannucce (~45 m deep) Ventotene, Italy. Source: Simone Carletti / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

Summary:

This breathtaking oceanic giant is the world's heaviest bony fish. The Ocean Sunfish has a large blunt head, a small mouth with fused teeth forming a parrot-like beak, and tall slender dorsal and anal fins.

Instead of a caudal fin, Mola mola has a rudder-like structure called a clavus (meaning 'rudder' in Latin) – a deep, stiff lobe formed from extensions of the dorsal and anal fin rays. They also have a skeleton composed largely of cartilage, fewer vertebrae than other bony fishes, and lack pelvic fins, ribs, and a swim bladder.

The Ocean Sunfish grows to more than 3 metres in length, 4.2 metres in height, and can weigh more than 2.5 tonnes. Much of what is known about ocean sunfishes has come from stranded individuals.

Video of Ocean Sunfish having parasites removed by fishes and seagulls.

A huge Ocean Sunfish filmed off Portugal

Swimming with a gigantic Ocean Sunfish

Video of an Ocean Sunfish off Valparaiso, Chile

YouTube video of fishes and gulls removing parasites from Ocean Sunfishes.

Diving with Mola mola in Bali, Indonesia

Video of Mola mola in Bali, Indonesia being cleaned by Schooling Bannerfish (about 2:40 minutes into the video).

Video of Tierney Thys talking about her work tracking massive 10-foot long, 5,000-pound ocean sunfish, Mola mola around the globe.


Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Mola mola in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Oct 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/785

Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Distribution

The Ocean Sunfish is found in all tropical and temperate oceans, and occasionally comes inshore. The species has been recorded in Australian waters from off Fraser Island, Queensland, around southern Australia to about Mandurah, Western Australia.

Once thought to be a sluggish, sedentary species, Mola mola is actually an active swimmer, regularly diving to feed in depths below 200 m - and individuals have been recorded beyond 1000 m. 

To warm themselves up after spending time in very cold deep water, Ocean Sunfish spend much of their time in the top 200 m of the ocean. They are often seen basking at the surface, flapping their dorsal fins out of the water.

Features

Dorsal-fin rays 15–18; Anal-fin rays 15–18; Clavus 12 rays, ~8-9 ossicles; Pectoral-fin rays 11-13.

Deep-bodied fishes, with high dorsal and anal fins, a reduction and fusion of caudal fin elements resulting in a loss of the caudal fin, a clavus or rudder-like structure, no swim bladder, no pelvic fins and a reduced, cartilaginous skeleton.The clavus is made up of fin rays and musculature from the dorsal and anal fins. The vertebral column is very reduced, and ribs are absent. Although the sunfish body is very rigid and rather inflexible, the large dorsal and anal fins are very powerful.
Body depth 70–75% SL; head length 35–39% SL; visible broad band of reduced denticles (smooth to touch) alongside base of clavus from dorsal fin to anal fin.

The clavus is supported by about 12 rays, of which 8–9 bear ossicles. The ossicles are widely separated and less broad than the spaces between them. A visible band of reduced denticles (smoother to the touch than surrounding skin) is present at the base of the clavus extending from dorsal fin to anal fin.

Size

To 3.3 metres in length and 4.2 metres in height between the tips of the dorsal and anal fins.

Colour

Dull brown or greyish above and on upper portion of sides, paling to whitish below; sides sometimes with paler (occasionally yellow) spots.

Feeding

Carnivore - feeds mostly in deeper waters on soft gelatinous invertebrates, especially siphonophores. Ocean sunfish also consume jellyfishes, comb jellies, slaps, small crustaceans, squids, fishes and zooplankton.

Research using stable isotope analysis, has shown that groups of small ocean sunfish (less than 1 metre in length) feed on a broad range of pelagic organisms (Syväranta et al. 2012).

Once thought to be relatively inactive fishes that fed on pelagic gelatinous animals, research and sightings indicate that molas undertake deep-water forays to feed on colonial animals such as siphonophores.

Biology

Very little is known of the biology of ocean sunfishes. The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Individuals larger than 250 cm TL are female. Although some spawning areas have been identified and females may produce up to 300 million tiny pelagic eggs, Mola larvae are rarely collected.

Ocean sunfishes swim by synchronously flapping their dorsal and anal fins, using them like a pair of wings to glide through the water. This mode of swimming is thought to be very efficient, allowing ocean sunfishes to repeatedly dive to remarkable depths.

Fisheries

Although not a commercially important species, ocean sunfishes are frequently taken in extraordinary numbers as bycatch in gillnet, driftnet, longline and midwater trawl fisheries. Although not targeted, some fisheries catch more Mola mola that the target species. 

Molids are used as a food fish throughout Asia and the largest markets are in Japan and Taiwan. They are also used in the traditional medicine industry. The marketing and sale of fish and fishery products derived from ocean sunfishes is banned in the European Union.

Conservation

• IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

The targeting or incidental bycatch of ocean sunfishes is largely unregulated by fisheries around the world. Molas may also be 'finned' in some parts of the world, and may be threatened by floating debris such as plastic bags.

Remarks

Recent molecular work showed that there is high genetic divergence among Mola mola, indicating that there are two clades – one found exclusively in the southern hemisphere, and the other comprising individuals from both hemispheres.

Ocean Sunfish are host to at least 50 parasite species (Abe et al. 2012). Schools of Ocean Sunfish have been observed 'sun-baking' at the surface while gulls and albatrosses pick parasites from their huge bodies.

Similar Species


Etymology

Mola is from the Latin mola meaning "millstone", in reference to the disc-like shape of the body.

Species Citation

Tetraodon mola Linnaeus, 1758, Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae. Tom.1 Holmiae: 334. Type locality: Mediterranean Sea. 

Author

Bray, D.J. 2016

Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)

References


Abe,T., Sekiguchi, K., Onishi, H., Muramatsu, K. & Kamito, T. 2012. Observations on a school of ocean sunfish and evidence for a symbiotic cleaning association with albatrosses. Marine Biology http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-011-1873-6

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research Vol. 1-3 1260 pp.

Bass AL, Dewar H, Thys T, Streelman JT, Karl SA. 2005. Evolutionary divergence among lineages of the ocean sunfish family, Molidae (Tetraodontiformes). Marine Biology 148: 405–414. http://www.springerlink.com/content/t61703371ml681u6/

Bray, D.J. 2008. Molidae, pp. 859-861. In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter (eds) The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. New Holland Publishers, Chatswood, Australia.

Britz, R., G.D. Johnson. 2005. Occipito-vertebral fusion in ocean sunfishes (Teleostei: Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) and its phylogenetic implications. Journal of Morphology 266: 74–79.

Dewar, H., Thys, T., Teo, S.L.H., Farwell, C., O'Sullivan, J., Tobayama, T., Soichi, M., Nakatsubo, T., Kondo, Y., Okada, Y., Lindsay, D.J., Hays, G.C., Walli, A., Weng, K., Streelman, J.T. & Karl, S.A. (2010). Satellite tracking the world's largest jelly predator, the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, in the Western Pacific. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 393: 32–42. PDF Open Access

Fergusson, I.K., L.J.V. Compagno & M.A. Marks. 2000. Predation by white sharks Carcharodon carcharias (Chondrichthyes: Lamnidae) upon chelonians, with new records from the Mediterranean Sea and a first record of the ocean sunfish Mola mola (Osteichthyes: Molidae) as stomach contents. Environ. Biol. Fish. 58: 447-453.

Fraser-Brunner, A. 1951. The ocean sunfishes (Family Molidae). Bull Br Mus Nat Hist Zool 1:1–120.

Gill, T.N. 1897. The distinctive characters of the Molinae and Ranzaniinae. Science 156: 966–967

Hays, G., Farquhar, M., Luschi, P., Teo, S., Thys, T. 2009. Vertical niche overlap by two ocean giants with similar diets: ocean sunfish and leatherback turtles. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 370 (1–2): 134–143.

Hobbs, J.-P.A., Ayling, A.M., Choat, J.H., Gilligan, J.J., McDonald, C.A., Neilson, J. & Newman, S.J. 2010. New records of marine fishes illustrate the biogeographic importance of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 2422: 63–68

Hutchins JB (2001) Molidae. Molas (ocean sunfishes). In: Carpenter KE, Niem V (eds) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 6. Bony fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles. FAO, Rome, pp 3966–3968.

Liu, J., Zapfe, G., Shao, K.-T., Leis, J.L., Matsuura, K., Hardy, G., Liu, M., Robertson, R. & Tyler, J. 2015. Mola mola. (errata version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190422A97667070. Downloaded on 14 December 2016.

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundem Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis. Tom.1 Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii 824 pp.

Matsuura, K. & J.C. Tyler. 1994. Triggerfishes and their allies. In Paxton, J.R. & W.N. Eschmeyer (eds) Encyclopedia of Fishes. Sydney: New South Wales University Press; San Diego: Academic Press, 240 pp.

Nakae M, Sasaki K. 2009. Peripheral nervous system of the ocean sunfish Mola mola (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae). Ichthyological Research 53: 233–246. DOI: 10.1007/s10228-006-0339-1 Abstract

Nakamura, I., Goto, Y. & Sato, K. 2015. Ocean sunfish rewarm at the surface after deep excursions to forage for siphonophores. Journal of Animal Ecology 84(3): 590–603 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12346 Abstract

Nyegaard, M., Sawai, E., Gemmell, N., Gillum, J., Loneragan, N.R., Yamanoue, Y., Stewart, A.L. 2017. Hiding in broad daylight: molecular and morphological data reveal a new ocean sunfish species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has eluded recognition. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zlx040. doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx040 Abstract


Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Pan H, Yu H, Ravi V, Li C, Lee AP, Lian MM, Tay B-H, Brenner s, Wang J, Yang H, Zhang G, Venkatesh B. 2016. The genome of the largest bony fish, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), provides insights into its fast growth rate. GigaScience 5:36 DOI: 10.1186/s13742-016-0144-3 Open access

Petersen, S. 2005. Initial bycatch assessment: South Africa's domestic longline fishery, 2000-2003. Domestic pelagic longline fishery: Bycatch Report 2000-2003. BirdLife South Africa, 45 pp.

Phillips, N.D., Harrod, C., Gates, A.R., Thys, T.M. & Houghton, J.D.R. 2015. Seeking the sun in deep, dark places: mesopelagic sightings of ocean sunfishes (Molidae). Journal of Fish Biology 87: 1118–1126. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12769 Abstract

Pope, E.C., G.C. Hays, T.M. Thys, T.K. Doyle, D.W. Sims, N. Queiroz, V.J. Hobson, L. Kubicek & J.D.R. Houghton. 2010. The biology and ecology of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola: a review of current knowledge and future research perspectives. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish. 20(4): 471-487. DOI: 10.1007/s11160-009-9155-9 Abstract

Potter, I.F. & W.H. Howell, 2010. Vertical movement and behavior of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, in the northwest Atlantic. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 396(2): 138-146.

Sagara K, Yoshita Y, Nishibori M, Kuniyoshi H, Umino T, Sakai Y, Hashimoto H, Gushima K (2005) Coexistence of two clades of the ocean sunfish Mola mola (Molidae) around the Japan cast. Jpn J. Ichthyol. 52: 35–39

Santini F, Tyler JC (2002) Phylogeny of the ocean sunfishes (Molidae, Tetraodontiformes), a highly derived group of teleosts fishes. Ital J Zool 69: 37–43.

Santini F, Tyler JC (2003) A phylogeny of the families of fossil and extant tetraodontiform fishes (Acanthomorpha, Tetraodontiformes), Upper Cretaceous to recent. Zool J Linn Soc 139: 565–617

Schmidt, J. 1921. New studies of sun-fishes made during the ‘‘Dana’’ Expedition, 1920. Nature 107: 76-79.

Sims, D.W., N. Queiroz, T.K. Doyle, J.D.R. Houghton & G.C. Hays, 2009. Satellite tracking of the World's largest bony fish, the ocean sunfish (Mola mola L.) in the North East Atlantic. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 370(1–2): 127–133.

Syväranta, J., C. Harrod, L. Kubicek, V. Cappanera & J.D.R. Houghton. 2012. Stable isotopes challenge the perception of ocean sunfish Mola mola as obligate jellyfish predators. Journal of Fish Biology 80: 225–231.

Thys, T. 2003. Tracking ocean sunfish, Mola mola with pop-up satellite archival tags in California waters. Oceansunfish.org  http://www.oceansunfish.org/research.html2003

Thys, T., 2005. Creator/Editor. Oceansunfish.org. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.oceansunfish.org/

Thys, T., Weng, K.C., Dewar, H., Farwell, C., O'Sullivan, J., Walli, A., Teo, S., Tobayama, T., Soichi, M., Kondo, Y., Okada, Y., Nakatsubo, T., Block, B.A., 2007. Tracking the world's largest jelly predator, the Mola mola, in the Eastern and Western Pacific, CLIOTOP Symposium, Baja California.

Watanabe, Y., Sato, K., 2008. Functional dorsoventral symmetry in relation to lift-based swimming in the ocean sunfish Mola mola. PLoS ONE 3, e3446. PDF Open access

Watson, W. 1996. Molidae, pp. 1439-1441. In Moser, H.G. (ed.) The Early Stages of Fishes in the California Current Region, CalCOFI Atlas No. 33. 

Yamanoue Y, Miya M, Matsuura K, Katoh M, Sakai H, Nishida M (2004) Mitochondrial genome and phylogeny of the ocean sunfishes (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae). Ichthyol Res 51:269–273

Yoshita, Y., Y. Yamanoue, K. Sagara, M. Nishibori, H. Kuniyoshi, T. Umino, Y. Sakai. H. Hashimoto & K. Gushima. 2009. Phylogenetic relationship of two Mola sunfishes (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) occurring around the coast of Japan, with notes on their geographical distribution and morphological characteristics. Ichthyological Research 56: 232–244.

  • Fish Classification

  • Class

    ACTINOPTERYGII Ray-finned fishes
  • Order

    TETRAODONTIFORMES Puffer-fishes
  • Family

    MOLIDAE Ocean sunfishes
  • Genus

    Mola
  • Species

    mola

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37470002

Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Habitat:Oceanodromous, pelagic-oceanic

Max lnzzxazq. وهمية لونجين مشاهدةSize:3.3 metres; 2.7 tonnes

Max weight:World's heaviest bony fish

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Tuilleadh ón gcatagóir seo « An caisearbhán molta mar shuaitheantas nua don Ghaeilgeoir Níl sé i gceist fiú staidéar a dhéanamh ar chostas ionad náisiúnta oideachais Gaeilge i mBaile Bhuirne »
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    • Gaeilge sa chlós – conas na páistí a spreagadh // Gaeilge in the yard – how to encourage the children.

      Bíonn fadhbanna i gcuid mhór Gaelscoileanna sa chlós – go mbíonn na páistí ag labhairt as Béarla le chéile nuair a shíleann siad go bhfuil an seans acu. Sa scoil ina bhfuil mé ag múineadh níl a leithéid d’fhadhb ann. Is fíor fíor annamh go mbíonn Béarla le chloisteáil agus ba bhreá liom a roinnt libh cén chaoi go spreagann muid na páistí an méid iarrachta sin i gcónaí a choinneáil suas. D’fhéadfadh seo a bheith ar siúl i nGaelscoil nó fiú in aon scoil eile – chun an Ghaeilge neamhfhiormiúl a chur chun cinn. Ní mise, ach ceann do mo chomhghleacaithe iontacha, a chur tús leis na ‘Cártaí Gaeilge’ seo. Smaoineamh amach is amach simplí – agus amach is amach éifeachtach!

      Many Gaelscoileanna have problems in the yard – that the children use English when they think that they can get away with it. In the school I teach in this problem does not exist. It is only very very rarely that English is heard and I would love to share with you how we go about encourage the children to keep their level of effort from slipping. This will work in a Gaelscoil or indeed in any other school – to promote and develop informal Gaeilge. It wasn’t me, but one of my amazing colleagues, who came up with our ‘Cártaí Gaeilge’. A really simple idea – but a really effective one.

      photo 1

      Cártaí beaga – lánaithe agus gearrtha amach. Scríofa orthú ná ‘Gaeilge den Scoth’, ‘Is Gaeilgeoir mé’ agus ‘Gaeilge chruinn’. Bíonn cártaí ag gach múinteoir a bhíonn ar an gclós. Tugann na múinteoirí amach na cártaí agus tá spriocanna difriúla ag gach aoisghrúpa. Faigheann na naíonáin bheaga cártaí i ndiadh Gaeilge a úsáid in aon bhealach agus faoin am go bhfuil siad in Rang 5/6 caithfidh Gaeilge chruinn a bheith in úsáid acu chun cártaí a fháil.

      Small cards – laminated and cut out. They have ‘Gaeilge den scoth’, ‘Is Gaeilgeoir mé’ and ‘Gaeilge chruinn’ written on them. Each teacher has a small bundle with them while an yard duty. Teachers give out the cards and each age group have different objectives. The junior infants get cards for speaking as Gaeilge in any way and by the time the children are in Rang 5/6 the must demonstrate good vocabulary and correct grammar in order to get their cártaí.

      photo 3

      Ansin, gach Aoine ag an tionóil, glacann muid cuntas den méad cártaí a bhailigh gach rang. Bíonn na páistí i gcónaí an-bhródúil nuair a bhíonn go leor faighte acu. Ansin, gach téarma, buann rang amháin turas babhlála.

      Then, each Friday at assembly, we record the amount of cards collected by each class that week. The children are always so proud when they’ve gathered lots. Then, each term, one class wins a bowling trip.

      photo 2 photo 3    photo 4

      Tárlaíonn rud amháin sa bhreis díreach le linn Seachtain na Gaeilge. Bíonn roinnt cártaí ann go bhfuil réalta ar chúl. Má bhfaigheann páiste ceann dóibh buann siad duais agus bíonn seans acu dul go dtí an oifig chun a d(h)uais a phiocadh suas.

      We add one extra element during Seachtain na Gaeilge. Some of the cards have stars on the back. If a child gets one of these cards they win a spot prize and get the glory of a trip to the office to choose their prize.

      photo 2Bainigí triail as – agus inis dom cén chaoi go n-éiríonn libh! Tá na cártaí iad féin ar fáil – saor in aisce – anseo.

      Give it a go – and let me know how you get on. The cards themselves are available – free of charge – here.

      1 Fhreagra amháin

      Rangaithe faoi Litearthacht // Literacy

      1 fhreagra amháin ar “Gaeilge sa chlós – conas na páistí a spreagadh // Gaeilge in the yard – how to encourage the children.

      1. Charline

        Tá an smaoineamh céanna againn inár scoil, seachas go bhfuil na cártaí níos simplí agus níos saoire le phriontáil. Glaoimid ‘ticéidí óir’ orthu, agus ar an ticéid, cuireann tú ainm an pháiste & rang, ionas go mbeadh taifead ar na Gaeilgeoirí is fearr chomh maith. Ag deireadh na míosa ansin, faigheann an rang is fearr corn lán le milseáin ag an Tionóil. Cruthaíonn sé an-spiorad mar caithfidh na ranganna eile canadh ‘Ó Rang X an rang is fearr’ fad is atá na buaiteoirí ag scréachaíl ag fágáil an halla! Bíonn an bronnadh i gcónaí sórt ‘dragged out’ chomh maith chun na sceitimíní a spreagadh ina na daltaí, m.sh ” múinteoir baineann… thuas staighre… tosaíonn hainm le C…”

        Ah níl aon scoil mar Gaelscoil!

        MoladhMolta ag 1 person

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  • eilge | Aonad na Gaeilge, Ollscoil Luimnigh , Bunrang Comhrá Gaeilge - Baile Mhuineacháin, Meánrang Comhrá Gaeilge - Baile Mhuineacháin, Ciorcal Díospóireachta, Léácht faoi Dheiseanna Fostaíochta Dhlí le Gaeilge san A.E"> 31 37 CUARDAIGH IMEACHT
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    Mola mola moladh molta

    Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)


    Other Names: Giant Sunfish, Mola, Mola Ocean Sunfish, Short Sunfish

    An Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, at Punta Cannucce (~45 m deep) Ventotene, Italy. Source: Simone Carletti / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

    Summary:

    This breathtaking oceanic giant is the world's heaviest bony fish. The Ocean Sunfish has a large blunt head, a small mouth with fused teeth forming a parrot-like beak, and tall slender dorsal and anal fins.

    Instead of a caudal fin, Mola mola has a rudder-like structure called a clavus (meaning 'rudder' in Latin) – a deep, stiff lobe formed from extensions of the dorsal and anal fin rays. They also have a skeleton composed largely of cartilage, fewer vertebrae than other bony fishes, and lack pelvic fins, ribs, and a swim bladder.

    The Ocean Sunfish grows to more than 3 metres in length, 4.2 metres in height, and can weigh more than 2.5 tonnes. Much of what is known about ocean sunfishes has come from stranded individuals.

    Video of Ocean Sunfish having parasites removed by fishes and seagulls.

    A huge Ocean Sunfish filmed off Portugal

    Swimming with a gigantic Ocean Sunfish

    Video of an Ocean Sunfish off Valparaiso, Chile

    YouTube video of fishes and gulls removing parasites from Ocean Sunfishes.

    Diving with Mola mola in Bali, Indonesia

    Video of Mola mola in Bali, Indonesia being cleaned by Schooling Bannerfish (about 2:40 minutes into the video).

    Video of Tierney Thys talking about her work tracking massive 10-foot long, 5,000-pound ocean sunfish, Mola mola around the globe.


    Cite this page as:
    Bray, D.J. 2016, Mola mola in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Oct 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/785

    Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)

    More Info


    Distribution

    The Ocean Sunfish is found in all tropical and temperate oceans, and occasionally comes inshore. The species has been recorded in Australian waters from off Fraser Island, Queensland, around southern Australia to about Mandurah, Western Australia.

    Once thought to be a sluggish, sedentary species, Mola mola is actually an active swimmer, regularly diving to feed in depths below 200 m - and individuals have been recorded beyond 1000 m. 

    To warm themselves up after spending time in very cold deep water, Ocean Sunfish spend much of their time in the top 200 m of the ocean. They are often seen basking at the surface, flapping their dorsal fins out of the water.

    Features

    Dorsal-fin rays 15–18; Anal-fin rays 15–18; Clavus 12 rays, ~8-9 ossicles; Pectoral-fin rays 11-13.

    Deep-bodied fishes, with high dorsal and anal fins, a reduction and fusion of caudal fin elements resulting in a loss of the caudal fin, a clavus or rudder-like structure, no swim bladder, no pelvic fins and a reduced, cartilaginous skeleton.The clavus is made up of fin rays and musculature from the dorsal and anal fins. The vertebral column is very reduced, and ribs are absent. Although the sunfish body is very rigid and rather inflexible, the large dorsal and anal fins are very powerful.
    Body depth 70–75% SL; head length 35–39% SL; visible broad band of reduced denticles (smooth to touch) alongside base of clavus from dorsal fin to anal fin.

    The clavus is supported by about 12 rays, of which 8–9 bear ossicles. The ossicles are widely separated and less broad than the spaces between them. A visible band of reduced denticles (smoother to the touch than surrounding skin) is present at the base of the clavus extending from dorsal fin to anal fin.

    Size

    To 3.3 metres in length and 4.2 metres in height between the tips of the dorsal and anal fins.

    Colour

    Dull brown or greyish above and on upper portion of sides, paling to whitish below; sides sometimes with paler (occasionally yellow) spots.

    Feeding

    Carnivore - feeds mostly in deeper waters on soft gelatinous invertebrates, especially siphonophores. Ocean sunfish also consume jellyfishes, comb jellies, slaps, small crustaceans, squids, fishes and zooplankton.

    Research using stable isotope analysis, has shown that groups of small ocean sunfish (less than 1 metre in length) feed on a broad range of pelagic organisms (Syväranta et al. 2012).

    Once thought to be relatively inactive fishes that fed on pelagic gelatinous animals, research and sightings indicate that molas undertake deep-water forays to feed on colonial animals such as siphonophores.

    Biology

    Very little is known of the biology of ocean sunfishes. The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Individuals larger than 250 cm TL are female. Although some spawning areas have been identified and females may produce up to 300 million tiny pelagic eggs, Mola larvae are rarely collected.

    Ocean sunfishes swim by synchronously flapping their dorsal and anal fins, using them like a pair of wings to glide through the water. This mode of swimming is thought to be very efficient, allowing ocean sunfishes to repeatedly dive to remarkable depths.

    Fisheries

    Although not a commercially important species, ocean sunfishes are frequently taken in extraordinary numbers as bycatch in gillnet, driftnet, longline and midwater trawl fisheries. Although not targeted, some fisheries catch more Mola mola that the target species. 

    Molids are used as a food fish throughout Asia and the largest markets are in Japan and Taiwan. They are also used in the traditional medicine industry. The marketing and sale of fish and fishery products derived from ocean sunfishes is banned in the European Union.

    Conservation

    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

    The targeting or incidental bycatch of ocean sunfishes is largely unregulated by fisheries around the world. Molas may also be 'finned' in some parts of the world, and may be threatened by floating debris such as plastic bags.

    Remarks

    Recent molecular work showed that there is high genetic divergence among Mola mola, indicating that there are two clades – one found exclusively in the southern hemisphere, and the other comprising individuals from both hemispheres.

    Ocean Sunfish are host to at least 50 parasite species (Abe et al. 2012). Schools of Ocean Sunfish have been observed 'sun-baking' at the surface while gulls and albatrosses pick parasites from their huge bodies.

    Similar Species


    Etymology

    Mola is from the Latin mola meaning "millstone", in reference to the disc-like shape of the body.

    Species Citation

    Tetraodon mola Linnaeus, 1758, Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae. Tom.1 Holmiae: 334. Type locality: Mediterranean Sea. 

    Author

    Bray, D.J. 2016

    Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758)

    References


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    Bray, D.J. 2008. Molidae, pp. 859-861. In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter (eds) The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. New Holland Publishers, Chatswood, Australia.

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    • Fish Classification

    • Class

      ACTINOPTERYGII Ray-finned fishes
    • Order

      TETRAODONTIFORMES Puffer-fishes
    • Family

      MOLIDAE Ocean sunfishes
    • Genus

      Mola
    • Species

      mola

    Quick Facts


    CAAB Code:37470002

    Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

    Habitat:Oceanodromous, pelagic-oceanic

    Max lnzzxazq. وهمية لونجين مشاهدةSize:3.3 metres; 2.7 tonnes

    Max weight:World's heaviest bony fish

    Species Image Gallery

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