“Giant flat coach potato of the sea threatened -sets 2 Guinness World Records”

“Will this sunfish become the next Biggest Loser

to the oriental fishing trade?


The Mola Mola or giant Sunfish of the sea is the consummate “coach potato of the sea” and its status is very venerable. Its slow movements in the ocean, and extremely slow time to increase its population usually between 4.5 – 14 years to double its numbers, only increase the threats to this species.

Mola Mola sunfish of the ocean

Mola Mola sunfish of the ocean

M.mola a relative of the puffers and porcupine fish is found on slopes adjacent to deep water where it surfs the waves lying on its side resting or sucking up fish, mollusks, zooplankton, jellyfish, crustaceans and brittle stars. It is the ultimate conserver of energy and the largest bony fish in the oceans. The Mola will come in for shelter and to have parasites removed at cleaning stations run by cleaner fishes. If they do not want to come in to be cleaned, they will float on the surface of the water and let the sea gulls come and pick parasites off of them. It is usually shy. However, it may become familiar with divers in some locations and allow the divers to come closer than they should.

It swims upright and close to the surface when it needs to. The dorsal fin often sticks above the water and looks like it has been chopped in half. Native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a fish head with a tail, and its main body is flattened laterally. Sunfish can be as tall as they are long when their dorsal and ventral fins are extended.Belonging to the order Tetraodontiformesm, Molas may contain toxins like the pufferfish, filefish and porcupinefish also members of this order.

Oceanic sunfish

Oceanic sunfish

Mola mola heaviest fish in the sea.

The Oceanic Sunfish has an oval, very compressed body. Its very small mouth when closed looks like a horizontal slit with a hump above it, The Mola has no scales, but has thick tough skin with small small outgrowths which cover the skin (denticles). It has dorsal and anal fins that are long and curved and pectoral fins that are short and rounded. Its tail looks wavy in profile and the body has 17 to 18 dorsal rays and 14 to 18 anal rays and 12 to 13 pectoral rays for its defense. From the top this fish looks grey brown to dark blue and silvery below with dark fins which helps it blend nicely with the shadows cast over the surface of the water as it surfs along.

Mola sets two Guinness World Records
Mola m. are the heaviest bony fish in the ocean 1,000 kg about 2,200 lb. and also carries the most eggs in one ovary of any bony fish in the world. One female Mola female whose length was about 4 and a half feet long was carrying well over 300 million eggs in a single ovary!

Who preys on the largest and heaviest bony fish in the sea?
Not considered as food fish in the west, it is used in Chinese medicine and an oriental delicacy. Juveniles Molas are eaten by California sea lions in Monterey Bay and orcas and sharks.

Wide spread distribution of the oceanic sunfish

Wide spread distribution of the oceanic sunfish

The Oceanic Sunfish has been sighted in the ocean near every continent but not Antarctica and rarely is seen in the Arabian Sea. The Mola has been observed in waters off Australia, India, Ireland, the Mediterranean and the U.S. Sometimes it even ventures into the colder temperate oceans near Alaska and British Columbia. The Mola do not travel to waters that are very cold.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of http://www.hemmy.net/2006/03/19/top-10-strangest-animals
http://bss.sfsu.edu/holzman/courses/fall00projects/mola.html
Images and Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_sunfish

Map courtesy of http://www.aquamaps.org/imagethumb/file_destination/exp_11_pic_Fis-23639.jpg

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