Ocean Sunfish


The largest bony fish in the world is the incredible ocean sunfish Mola mola, a bizarre circular fish that can reach more than 4M across, weighing up to 2,300 kg… about the same weight as an Asian bull elephant… which is a lot… but don’t tell him I told you so as that would be terrible manners.


This enormous bony fish gets its name from its behaviour of thermal recharging, basking his big flat body to catch the warmth of the sun’s rays, after deep dives into the depths of the chilly ocean. Lying flat like a mirror image of the sun. In fact it has a number of apt monickers, in many countries it is known as the moonfish, in Germany it’s “the swimming head”, in Poland the “head alone” and in China it’s the “toppled car” which makes absolutely no bloody sense whatsoever.


Talking of talking sense, I’m a simple man who likes to keep things elementary; I call my dog “doggy”, Lady Gwendolene “darling” and a Frenchman a “stinking coward”. So I thought it pertinent to bring it to your attention that the very word ‘fish’ is probably misleading. There are 9 different classes of vertebrates; mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are a familiar and really rather nicely defined four, incredibly the other five are all different classes of fish. The Agnatha; weird eel-like fish like the hagfish and lamprey. The Acanthodii and Placodermi, who didn’t do frightfully well and went extinct. Then there are the Chondricythes, with their cartilaginous skeletons, like the sharks and rays. Finally there are the more ‘fishy’ fish, the Osteicythes, the bony fish like the tuna, the cod and our smashing ocean sunfish.


Thankfully the ocean sunfish doesn’t care what you call him as he’s bally stupid, the most stupid animal in the sea, after a Giraffe of course. His brain is quite literally the size of a peanut, weighing in at 4g. He doesn’t really need it of course, nature is like that… terribly efficient, he happily bimbles around the ocean, eating jellyfish and well having a bit of lie down, eating another blobby thing… and that’s it really. He eats the easiest of prey; starfish, sponges what not… anything that can’t get away from the slow moving oaf to be perfectly honest… it’s fair to say that the ocean sunfishes prey have about as much chance as a biscuit in a fat man’s bed. So how did he get so big? Well quite simply by eating lots and lots. All the really big animals around the planet have access to tonnes and tonnes of food. The elephant chows down on the grasses and brows of Africa and Asia. The blue whale, who incidentally has a tongue the same length as an elephant, slurps up tonnes and tonnes of krill. The ocean sunfish, the largest bony fish in the world, eats jellyfish and sponges… lots and lots of them.

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It looks really weird and it’s body doesn’t even looked to the streamlined for easy movement in the water.

    But at 2,300 kg, that is one hell of a heavy fish.

    Nice story!

  2. If my former mother-in-law had been born a fish,…well, it’s a long and convoluted story. A plan comes to mind – if we could round a few up and discretely remove them from the oceans, the effect could be as when one gets out of the bathtub. The receding waters would expose prime new beachfront properties?!? Sshhh!…

  3. I really marvel at this huge head-fish and believe I had a very short encounter with a Sunfish when I was about 16 and surfing off the Ventura coast. The tall fin did scare me, but the fish seemed to be surrounded by a gel. I didn’t know how to describe the fish back then. Obviously to my family, it sounded like I was describing some crazy, sea alien, that I had made-up. However, now I’m thinking it had it’s own outer-space Star Trek shield.(still an alien)

    The huge fish rubbed the gel against my leg and I felt so threatened by it’s size, that I didn’t surf again for two years. Was the fish dead and this is way the Sunfishes decay? Or, is the gel always present? I’ve always wondered about this, especially when we drive-up the coast and pass “Mondos”

  4. Wow. Your blog is soooo hilarious. I cant help but wonder if you are british with all of the “bloodies” and “stinkers” strung all over your writings. Whether or not, I find your blog very amusing and I very much appreciate you taking time to amuse me and educate me. How in the world did you get into the ‘weird animal’ writing?

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