A Mola kind of Monday


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  

Published on Monday, March 19th, 2018 at 12:42 pm EDT

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published:   


Ocean sunfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium. He could eat those kids, just sayin'. Photo Credit: Fred Hsu

The Molidae family is considered the world's largest bony fish and they're all a bit secretive. They enjoy eating jellyfish and basking on their side near the surface of the ocean, hence how they got the name "sunfish."

Ocean sunfish (Mola mola) are giants of the sea. The largest known was  over 14 feet long and 5,000 pounds. NOAA researchers say that ocean sunfish are a rare treat to see and there's still a lot we just don't know about them. One rather large mystery is their longevity, we currently have no idea how long these fish live.
Oh don't mind me, just basking in the sun to warm up after a day of diving for jellyfish. Photo Credit: Allan Hack

Their cousin, the sharptail mola can live up to 105 years or longer and can grow to be over 4,000 pounds! That's a lot of jellyfish.

Even more fun is another species of mola that was recently discovered in Indonesia, the hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and they too reach giant proportions. Still no word on longevity, but it's likely these giants enjoy a long lifespan.

There's also the southern ocean sunfish and the slender sunfish, but tracking down longevity information is a challenge.

Enjoy your Mola Monday!