Ocean sunfish Introduction
The sunfish is the largest bony fish in the world, topping at over 2,000 kg!!! Sunfish are indeed strange. They have no true tail , and instead look like a fish that has been cut in half. Their elongated dorsal and anal fins flop about in sync, appearing as though a stingray has been turned on its side. When they do breach the surface, their fins might trick you into thinking that they are sharks, or their wide eyes might lead you to believe they are scared or confused. Sunfish comprise a group of five unique species that roam the deep waters of the world. Though they are fast-growing and cumbersome, don’t be fooled into thinking that sunfish can’t fend for themselves! Sunfish are voracious predators and one of the ocean’s greatest eaters. The Mola mola is the most common of all sunfish species – and the one that most of this article is based on. They have round, knobbly tails, and long dorsal and anal fins. Their bodies are almost circular. Their skin is gritty like sandpaper, covered with a thick layer of mucus. Their skin can vary from grey to blue or white and they can be covered in white spots, which are sometimes only visible when the fish is stressed. Sunfish inhabit the epipelagic zone, the upper 200m of the ocean where sunlight illuminates the world. However, sunfish can easily dive to depths of over 600m – known as the twilight zone. In this zone, waters become much darker, pressure increases and temperatures drop to almost freezing. All sunfish inhabit temperate and tropical seas. The ocean sunfish, southern sunfish, slender sunfish and sharptail mola have all been identified in all five oceans. The newly discovered hoodwinker sunfish has only been identified in the southern Pacific and Indian oceans, from Chile to South Africa, but it likely has a similar distribution to other species. All five species have been spotted in Cape Town.
Keywords to learn
Elongated: become longer
Hey Kids, my name is Ola the Ocean sunfish and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species https://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
- Lifespan:Up to 10 years.
- Scientific name:Mola mola.
- Mass:Up to 2.5 tons (2,500 kg).
- Length:11 feet (over 3 metres).
- Region Found:Worldwide.
- Population Status:Vulnerable.
- Current population trend:Decreasing.
- Sexual maturity:5-7 years.
As you have learned, the sunfish is the largest bony fish in the world and is biological ‘mistake’ and mystery, but this animal is a strange wonder and is so unique.
Now that you know more about the Ocean sunfish by learning the key data above, be sure to also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the Ocean sunfish here: Ocean sunfish (answers are on this page)
Ocean Sunfish Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Ocean sunfish grow to 60 million times their size from when they hatch!
- # 2. A typical growth rate for an ocean sunfish is 500g a day, but one kept at the Monterey Bay Aquarium grew 373kg in just 15 months!
- # 3. Sunfish lay more eggs than any other kind of animal – in fact, a single Mola mola can lay over 300 million eggs at a time!
- # 4. Ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on the pesky critters. They will even breach the surface up to 10 feet in the air and land with a splash in an attempt to shake the parasites.
- # 5. Sunfish are actually relatives of puffer fish.
- # 1. What is the deepest a sunfish can go and what is the area called?
- # 2. What is the average weight of the sunfish (kg)?
- # 3. What is the current population trend of the sunfish?
- # 4. How many eggs can a single sunfish lay?
- # 5. What other fish is the sunfish weirdly related to?