Animals

Fin-tastic Facts About The Ocean Sunfish For Kids

One of the most fascinating ocean sunfish facts is that the females of this species produce more eggs than any other vertebrate.
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The ocean sunfish is one of the largest and heaviest bony fish in the world. The ocean sunfish or Mola mola is often confused with sharks (predators of the ocean sunfish) owing to its large body and dorsal fin. The name Mola mola is of Latin origin, meaning 'millstone', but what does 'millstone' mean? The word 'millstone' actually describes the circular body shape of this fish.

When it comes to its appearance, the ocean sunfish species also resembles a floating bob. It looks like a fish head followed by a tail. This impression is created as the main body of the ocean sunfish has a flat shape. This fish has a silvery color and its skin has a gritty texture. The skin of this fish is layered with thick mucus. The ocean sunfish has a relatively small mouth and its teeth are fused with a beak-like structure. These fish species have pharyngeal teeth. This fish is born with a back fin. What makes this back fin so amusing is the fact that it never actually grows fully!

The ocean sunfish mola can be casually seen on the surface above water while basking in the sun. This fish species mostly feed on jellyfish, fish larvae, crustaceans, squid and other small fish in the ocean. The predators of the ocean sunfish mola include sea lions, sharks, and killer whales. As a vulnerable fish species, the ocean sunfish is also endangered because of being caught in gill nets by humans other than being on the menu of its natural predators.

You may also check out the fact files on spotted sunfish and redbreast sunfish from Kidadl.

Ocean Sunfish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Jellyfish

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

300 million eggs

How much do they weigh?

545- 2205lbs (247.2– 1000.1 kg)

How long are they?

70 in (1.8 m )


How tall are they?

129 in (3.3 m)


What do they look like?

Silvery

Skin Type

Wet and slimy scales

What are their main threats?

Humans, sea lions, killer whales, sharks

What is their conservation status?

Vulnerable

Where you'll find them

Tropical and temperate waters

Locations

Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Actinopterygii

Scientific Name

Mola mola

Family

Molidae

Genus

Mola

Ocean Sunfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an ocean sunfish?

The ocean sunfish species is one of the heaviest bony fishes, belonging to the Molidae family.

What class of animal does an ocean sunfish belong to?

The ocean sunfish belongs to the Animalia kingdom and Actinopterygii class.

How many ocean sunfish are there in the world?

The IUCN scientists have listed the ocean sunfish under the vulnerable category. This means that these fish are rare and endangered.

Where does an ocean sunfish live?

Ocean sunfish live in tropical and temperate waters in the oceans around the world. In winters, the ocean sunfish lie suspended in deeper waters. The ocean sunfish usually likes to live around rocks and weeds covered in shallow water.

What is an ocean sunfish's habitat?

The ocean sunfish habitat includes the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. As per scientists, some ocean sunfish ranges can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea.

Who does ocean sunfish live with?

The ocean sunfish mola is usually seen alone, but at times they will travel in packs in the sea. The ocean sunfish travels in schools when it needs help from other fish to get rid of parasites.

How long does an ocean sunfish live?

In captivity, an ocean sunfish can live up to 10 years. There is not much information about the life span of an ocean sunfish in its natural habitat in the sea.

How do they reproduce?

Not much is known about the reproductive behavior of the vertebrate ocean sunfish in the sea. As per what is known, the ocean sunfish reproduces through broadcast spawning. In order to reproduce, the males and females release sperm and eggs respectively in the water. This happens simultaneously. An ocean sunfish can spawn many times in its entire lifespan. At one time, ocean sunfish eggs released can be up to 300 million eggs in number. As a fact, the females of the ocean fish can produce more eggs in comparison to other vertebrates.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the ocean sunfish is vulnerable. These fish quite often get caught in drift gillnets, leading towards ocean sunfish extinct status. The other threat to the survival of the ocean sunfish is plastic and other sea trash that causes them to suffocate.

Ocean Sunfish Fun Facts

What do ocean sunfish look like?

An ocean sunfish is a silvery-colored fish with a flattened circular body.

The ocean sunfish Mola is a circular and bullet-shaped fish known for its enormous size. This fish can grow as long as eleven feet. It very much looks like a fish head combined with a tail, as the rest of its body is entirely flattened.

The huge ocean sunfish mola has a silvery color and gritty skin texture with speckled patterns. The skin of the ocean sunfish mola is covered with a thick layer of mucus. Ocean sunfish are often mistaken for sharks because of their huge dorsal fins.

One amazing thing about the ocean sunfish is the fact that it can be as tall as it is long. This happens when both the dorsal and ventral fins of the ocean sunfish mola are extended at the same time. The distance between the top dorsal fins and anal fins of this fish can be as much as fourteen feet! Ocean sunfish skeleton shows it is a bony fish, which makes it different from other cartilaginous fish.

How cute are they?

It’s strange how an ocean sunfish mola is considered to be cute despite its ugly first impression. The ocean sunfish is often seen brimming with parasites and might even look confused, but there is still a cuteness quotient about it when it’s basking on the surface.

How do they communicate?

There is not much known about how an ocean sunfish communicates with other fish in the ocean.

How big is an ocean sunfish?

The giant ocean sunfish mola is vertically 14 ft (4.2 m) and horizontally 10 ft (3 m). The ocean sunfish size is much larger than a 6 ft (1.8 m) human.

How fast can an ocean sunfish swim?

The ocean sunfish Mola is a clumsy swimmer, mainly because of their big dorsal and anal fins. These fish have large dorsal and anal fins which make it hard for them to be fast swimmers.

How much does an ocean sunfish weigh?

The largest ocean sunfish weighs up to 2.5 tons (2268 kg). It is the heaviest of all species of bony fish.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the males and females of the ocean sunfish mola species.

What would you call a baby ocean sunfish?

There is no separate name for the baby ocean sunfish.

What do they eat?

An ocean sunfish's diet mainly includes jellyfish. Apart from jellyfish, their diet also includes other small fish, zooplankton and algae.

Are they rare?

The ocean sunfish comes under IUCN’s Vulnerable category, highlighting the endangering situation of this bony fish species across the globe. As a rare ocean fish, this vertebrate mostly appears in the summer months.

Would they make a good pet?

It can be challenging to keep a huge ocean sunfish mola in captivity for a long time. This is why this fish species is rarely seen in public aquariums. The reason why it is hard to keep an ocean sunfish mola in captivity is its enormous size. But, despite its enormous size and weight, the ocean sunfish mola is not an aggressive fish. Mola can be curious and draw near divers on the water surface but are not aggressive.

Did you know...

Known for its bizarre appearance, the ocean sunfish can harbor more than forty parasites species. The ocean sunfish moves in groups towards drifting kelp fields to get rid of these parasites. Clean wrasses and other little fish species help pick at the ocean sunfish to get rid of these parasites. The ocean sunfish also gets rid of its parasites with the help of seabirds on the surface while basking in the sun. This brings to other fun facts about the weird ocean sunfish! The ocean sunfish is quite fond of sunbathing on the water surface. You can actually see the sunfish near the water surface while basking in the sun and warming up their large bodies.

How old are ocean sunfish?

Mola mola, one of the most widely known ocean sunfish, was discovered in 1758, making it one of the oldest fishes in modern times.

Are ocean sunfish good to eat?

Is Ocean sunfish edible? Yes! In some parts of the world, including Taiwan and Japan, the flesh of the ocean sunfish mola is regarded as a delicacy. You can also eat the fins and other organs of the sunfish. As per a Polynesian legend, eating an ocean sunfish is considered bad luck.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes from our pumpkinseed sunfish facts and green sunfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Ocean Sunfish coloring pages.

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