Sunfish fact sheet

mola mola

Mola mola | Ocean sunfish

The ocean sunfish is the largest bony fish in the world and is easily recognised by its flattened body. Their body colouration varies from brown to light grey with white spots on the ventral and lateral regions. They lack caudal fins so they propel themselves by moving their elongated dorsal and anal fins, thereby swimming in a vertical position. They are docile animals that appear sluggish, but are difficult to photograph because their movements are fast and they do not like divers approaching. The skin of the ocean sunfish can be up to 7.6 cm thick and is covered in denticles and a layer of mucus in stead of scales. Sunfish are well known for carrying a large parasite load, with about 50 different species of endoparasites and ectoparasites being identified to date. Ocean sunfish inhabit pelagic zones of all the oceans of the world, although they prefer tropical waters. They are sometimes seen at the surface, basking in the sun.

• Height: 2.5 m (maximum 4.2 m)
• Length: 1.8 m (maximum 3.3 m)

• Average: c.1,000 kg
• Maximum: 2,300 kg

Diet: Jellyfish, small fish, squid and plankton

Longevity: c.10 years

Eggs: c.300,000.000

Main predators: Sharks and orca

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