Ocean Sunfish :: Mola mola :: Pelagic Oddity, Largest of the Bony Fishes
|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, California||Long 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.|
|G y g i s home Search our image database for all images of ocean sunfish Bookmark this page
|Gygis | Portfolios | Contact/Bio | Terms/Copyright | Online Image Search | Video | Mandelbrot Set ?|
All text and photographs copyright © Phillip Colla. All rights reserved worldwide. The content of this site is made available for purposes of researching images offered for license by Phillip Colla. No image is to be copied, duplicated, modified or redistributed in whole or part without the prior written permission of Phillip Colla Photography.
Email: oceanlight@OceanLight.com Portfolios of selected subjects: www.Gygis.com Catalog: www.OceanLight.com