Ocean Sunfish  ::   Mola mola  ::  Pelagic Oddity, Largest of the Bony Fishes

Image 03562, Ocean sunfish schooling, open ocean near San Diego., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:cluster:creature:fish:fish behavior:fish school:fishes:group:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:school:schooling:schooling fish:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife:wildlife portraits.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 02413, Ocean sunfish, open ocean, southern California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 06304, Ocean sunfish schooling near drift kelp, soliciting cleaner fishes, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california baja california:chordata:cleaning:cluster:creature:fish:fish behavior:fish school:fishes:group:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:school:schooling:schooling fish:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 06308, Ocean sunfish schooling near drift kelp, soliciting cleaner fishes, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california baja california:chordata:cleaning:cluster:creature:fish:fish behavior:fishes:group:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:school:schooling:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 00140, North Pacific humpback whales, a mother and calf pair swim closely together just under the surface of the ocean.  The calf will remain with its mother for about a year, migrating from Hawaii to Alaska to feed on herring., Megaptera novaeangliae, Maui, Copyright  Phillip Colla / HWRF, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: animal:baby:baby whale:balaenopteridae:behavior:calf:cetacea:cetacean:creature:endangered:endangered threatened species:hawaii:hawaiian islands:hawaiian islands humpback whale national marine sanctuary:hump back whale:humpback:humpback whale:humpback whale juvenile calf:humpback whale mother and calf:humpback whales:humpbacked whale:inspirational:juvenile:juvenile calf:mammal:marine:marine mammal:maui:megaptera:megaptera novaeangliae:mother and calf:mother calf nurturing:mysticete:mysticeti:national marine sanctuaries:nature:north pacific humpback whale:novaeangliae:ocean:oceans:pacific:portfolio:research:rorqual:sea:threatened:underwater:usa:whale:whale behavior:whale calf:wildlife:wildlife portraits:young.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 06311, Ocean sunfish schooling near drift kelp, soliciting cleaner fishes, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california baja california:chordata:cluster:creature:fish:fish behavior:fishes:group:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:school:schooling:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03267, Ocean sunfish recruiting fish near drift kelp to clean parasites, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animal in kelp:animalia:california baja california:chordata:cleaning:creature:environment:fish:fish behavior:habitat:indo-pacific:kelp forest:landscape:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:portfolio:scene:scenery:scenic:sea:seascape:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:underwater landscape:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 02028, Ocean sunfish., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03319, Ocean sunfish with mouth for slurping zooplankton, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:fish anatomy:indo-pacific:invertebrate:manbow:marine:marine fish:marine invertebrate:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:mouth:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:plankton:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03327, Ocean sunfish and photographer, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:freediver snorkler:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:people:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03325, Ocean sunfish and freediving photographer, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:fish anatomy:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:mouth:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:people:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03309, Ocean sunfish, dorsal fin at water surface, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:dorsal:dorsal fin:fin:fish:fish anatomy:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03268, Ocean sunfish recruiting fish near drift kelp to clean parasites, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california baja california:chordata:cleaning:creature:environment:fish:fish behavior:indo-pacific:landscape:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:scene:scenery:scenic:sea:seascape:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:underwater landscape:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03316, Ocean sunfish, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03318, Ocean sunfish, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03168, Ocean sunfish, halfmoon perch removing its parasites, open ocean., Mola mola, Medialuna californiensis, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:halfmoon:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:medialuna californiensis:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 02029, Ocean sunfish., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 02030, Ocean sunfish., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03311, Ocean sunfish, basking at surface, viewed from underwater, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 03269, Ocean sunfish sunning at surface, viewed from below, open ocean, Baja California., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Image 02892, Ocean sunfish, open ocean., Mola mola, Copyright  Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide. Keywords: actinopterygii:animal:animalia:california:california baja california:chordata:creature:fish:indo-pacific:manbow:marine:marine fish:mola:mola mola:molidae:mondfisch:moonfish:nature:ocean:ocean sunfish:ocean sunfish - mola mola:odd:outdoors:outside:pacific:pacific ocean:pelagic:pesce luna:pez luna:san diego:sea:strange:submarine:sunfish:teleost fish:tetraodontiformes:underwater:usa:vertebrata:wild:wildlife.   NOTE:  This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under NOAA/NMFS and State of Hawaii permit.  Its use is subject to certain restrictions.  Please contact the photographer for more information.
Mola mola is found in all oceans in tropical and temperate climes, and is known to eat gelatinous zooplankton (jellyfish) and probably small fishes and algae. In the eastern Pacific, Mola mola is normally found from British Columbia to South America, although in El Nino events it has been recorded as far north as Alaska.The ocean sunfish (Mola mola) is the world's largest known bony fish (sharks and rays are cartilaginous). At least one estimate over 3000 lb. has been recorded and individuals reaching 11 ft. (3 m.) from fin tip to fin tip have been seen.

This ocean sunfish, Mola mola, is often found near drift kelp. The sunfish recruits small fish found near the drift kelp to clean it of parasites.
Mola molas are commonly seen swimming slowly at the surface, often near flotsam or drifting kelp.The business end of a mola: a mouth well suited for slurping gelatinous zooplankton, a principal food source for molas.Ocean sunfish (Mola mola) dwarfs freediving photographer, offshore, CaliforniaLong dorsal and anal fins are the mola's principal source of locomotion -- they are flapped from side to side.

The nearest relative to Mola mola is Ranzania laevis, the slender mola. Found in the tropical and subtropical Pacific, Ranzania is rarely seen north of Mexico. Up to 2 feet (.6m) in size, its aspect ratio is "longer" than is the nearly circular Mola mola. Neither species of mola is to be confused with the tiny, freshwater "sunfish", a completely different animal.
When molas are swimming at the surface it is common for their fins to be mistaken for those of sharks.Molas are often covered with small parasites, and will approach drift kelp and other flotsam to recruit small fish (which hide in and below the kelp) to remove these parasites.The tail (caudal) fin of the ocean sunfish is actually an adaptation of the dorsal and anal fins. Known as a clavus, it is short and broad and acts like a rudder.A Mola mola's gill slit is covered by an operculum and is positioned just in front of the small pectoral fin. Molas range in color from dark gray to white, with many variations in mottling and spots. Juvenile molas may appear "shiny".Mola mola being cleaned of parasites by halfmoon perch Medialuna californiensis.Molas are often seen basking flat on the ocean surface, nearly motionless.Basking may be a thermoregulation behavior. It is not necessarily a sign that the mola is sick or injured as has been reported elsewhere.The swimming head, very odd indeed.
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