Fish of the Week: Ocean Sunfish

Ocean Sunfish: Mola mola

Courtesy of wikipedia
Courtesy of wikipedia

The ocean sunfish is one of the largest bony fishes in the ocean. They can be over 14’ in height and weigh over 5,000 lbs! It is a very strange looking creature, having looked as though a normal fish was flattened into a pancake with two long paddle-like dorsal and ventral fins. Ocean sunfish move through the water by propulsion from these elongated fins and using their caudal fin for steering.

They are a member of the Tetraodontiformes order, along with pufferfish, filefish and porcupinefish. This order is unique in the fact that the jaw bones have been modified into a beak-like structure. Although most of the individuals in this order use their teeth-like structures to crunch up invertebrates along the bottom of the sea floor, ocean sunfishes actually swims around the water column and eats mainly jellyfishes!

They have few natural predators, such as sea lions, killer whales and sharks, but ocean sunfishes are considered a delicacy for human consumption in some countries.

They are rare to see in an aquarium, but if you happen to live near the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA, you can check one out there in their Open Sea exhibit.

For more information on the ocean sunfish, check out National Geographic’s Fact Sheet. Check out this neat video on the sunfish from National Geographic.

Leave a Reply