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Scientific name: Mola mola
Common name: Opensea-sunfish
Taxonomy
Phyulm Sub Phylum Class Sub Class Order Sub Order Family Sub Family Genus Species
Chordata Vertebrata Osteichthyes Actinopterygii Tetraodontiformes Tetraodontoidei Molidae Not Defined Mola Mola mola

       

Short Description:

The mola molas body is generally oval in shape , but the rear termination is vertically straighter than the more rounded head . Its body is strongly compressed . The long, tapered dorsal and anal fins emerge from the top and bottom of the rear half of the body. The tail, or caudal fin, is narrow and runs the full height of the body, almost connecting to the dorsal and anal fins. Its contour follows that of the body and is scalloped at the end. Some biologists do not consider this a true fin and refer to it instead as a �clavus . Molas do not have pelvic fins.

These fish have a small,round mouth at the end of the snout. Their teeth consist of heavy, hard, fused plates similar to those in their distant relatives, the puffers . On each side behind and slightly above the mouth is a small, round eye, followed by a small oval-shaped opening through which water from the gill cavity exits, and a small, rounded pectoral fin.

The color of these fish varies but usually runs from tan to gray or sliver becoming somewhat lighter on the belly. The mola�s skin is very heavy and in large specimens, may exceed 10.2 cm  in thickness. It is covered by a layer of tiny, bony tubercles , similar to that of sharkskin in appearance and feel. The entire fish is covered with a heavy layer of thick mucus which is thought to provide protection from infection .

Identification
features:
Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15 - 18; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 14 - 17
Mouth very small; teeth fused to form a parrot-like beak. Gills 4, a slit behind the last; gill openings reduced to a small hole at the base of the pectoral fins. Gas bladder absent in adults.  
Size: Ocean sunfish are the largest of the bony fishes. Those most commonly observed are 0.9-1.5 m long and weigh 79-227 kg . The weight increases rapidly in proportion to the length . One of the largest mola molas ever reported was 3.1 m long and weighed 2,235 kg  
Behaviour: Most commonly seen as solitary individuals, but on occasion they appear in sizeable aggregations, frequently near floating kelp paddies. It is speculated that this behavior entices small resident fishes to clean parasites from the body of the larger mola. 
Diet: The species eats fishes, mollusks, zooplankton, jellyfish, crustaceans and brittle stars
Distribution: Prefers water temperatures in the tropical to temperate range .but have, however, been rarely observed in cold waters  
Depth: Typically found in water with a depth of 0 to 5,713 meters
Habitat: Pelagic; oceanodromous
Reference:
Similar Species:
  • None on database
 

Database Statistics
(Click on the links for more information)
Photographer Date City Area Dive site Temp Size Depth Camera Photo Video
Vernon Harvey -(Port Elizabeth) 2010-05-21 Port Elizabeth Algoa Bay (PE-AB)-Riy Banks 18 1000mm 2m Canon EOS 40d photo
Vernon Harvey -(Port Elizabeth) 2010-05-21 Port Elizabeth Algoa Bay (PE-AB)-Riy Banks 18 1000mm 2m Canon EOS 40d photo
Vernon Harvey -(Port Elizabeth) 2010-05-21 Port Elizabeth Algoa Bay (PE-AB)-Riy Banks 18 1000mm 2m Canon EOS 40d photo
 
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eastern cape scuba diving