Sunfish – The biggest and strangest fish in the ocean

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Ocean giant sunfish with diver. Mondfisch, Sonnenfisch mit Taucher (c) Jens Kuhfs Have you ever encountered the huge and somewhat strange sunfish?

The ocean sunfish (Mola mola) is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. The word mola is Latin and means millstone – in reference to the roundish shape of these fish. The common name "ocean sunfish" comes from the Mola mola’s habit of lying atop the surface of the ocean appearing to take a sunbath.

Sunfishes, appear as if their bodies have been somehow truncated leaving them little more than a large head equipped with long sweeping fins atop and below. The body is less than twice as long as it is deep. The sunfish lives in tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a fish head with a tail, and its main body is flattened laterally.

Sunfish live on a diet that consists mainly of jellyfish. Adult sunfish are vulnerable to few natural predators, but sea lions, orcas and sharks will consume them. Among humans, sunfish are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, including Japan, the Korean peninsula and Taiwan, but sale of their flesh is banned in the European Union.

Throughout the world, a number of other common names exist for ocean sunfishes:
In France they are called ‘Poisson lune’ (meaning moon fish) and in Germany ‘Schwimmender Kopf’ (meaning swimming head).



Now watch this actually pretty ‘small’ sunfish at the Monterey aquarium…:


Sunfish staring in diver's eyes...
This sunfish stares at the diver’s eyes…
(Photo: Hkitagawa)

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