If you think you’ve seen some bizarre fish wait till you see one with a beak, and that’s not the only fascinating fact about the sunfish, which is also known as mola mola (name so nice you have to say it twice).
The ocean sunfish are the largest bony fish in the ocean and can grow up to an amazing 3 meters in length and weight 2000 kg. They do not have a tail and instead they have a rounded wavy rudder like structure called a clavus. Although their swimming technique is a bit clumsy they have been tracked moving at the same speed as other large fish. They flap their large dorsal and anal fins to move while using their clavus to steer. They also have fused teeth that form a beak.
The ocean sunfish mainly feed on jellyfish, which I imagine is the junk food of the ocean since a meal of such less nutritional value still makes them weight more than a car. Squids, crustaceans and small fish are also part of the mola mola diet plan and after hunting in the cold waters of the deep ocean (sometimes even at an astounding depth of 2600 meters) Sunfish like to float to the surface for a relaxing sunbathing session. They spend half their day basking in the sun and this is how they get their name. However since the fish resembles a millstone with their round shape, rough skin and grey colour they are also known as mola, which is Latin for millstone.
They are spotted in almost all the tropical waters of the world’s oceans and this doesn’t really come as a surprise seeing as how an Ocean Sunfish can lay 300,000,000 eggs. This also consequently gives them world record for most number of eggs among vertebrates.
Another interesting fact is how the ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites that they will often invite small fish and even birds to help them get rid of them. They will even breach the surface up to 10 feet (3 meters) in the air and land with a splash in an attempt to shake the parasites and this is how they sometimes end up jumping into boats.
Most people would consider ocean sunfish inedible since they consist mainly of cartilage and tough insipid flesh and sandpaper like skin. However, they are considered a delicacy in some Asian countries and they were also an acceptable form of tax payment in 17th century Japan.
Despite their size, ocean sunfish are docile and are known as gentle giants to divers.