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Species guide

Ocean Sunfish

Scientific name: Mola mola

DESCRIPTION:
The ocean sunfish has an oval body, almost circular and compressed on the side, with the caudal part truncated (it seems as if it did not have a caudal fin), and is covered with a thick skin with tiny needles. The dorsal and anal fins are very high, as high or higher than the length of the body. The skeleton has a slight bone structure and is partially cartilaginous. It does not have a swimming bladder.
Its maximum size is 3 m, though normally it is no more than 1.5 m, and can weigh over a ton.

BIOLOGY:
The ocean sunfish has more or les gregarious customs, especially among the young, and is usually infested with internal parasites. In the summer it is common to see it floating on the surface of the water, being carried along by the currents.
It feeds on zooplankton (jelly fish, crustaceans, saupes…) and eel-like larvae. It was thanks to this feeding requirement that the return trip of the eel larvae was discovered from the Sargasso Sea to the places where there progenitors had been born.
They are oviparous animals that lay a large number of transparent, pelagic, tiny eggs; therefore, for instance, a female of 1.5 m in length has been seen to carry the amazing figure of 300 million eggs in her belly. After hatching, ocean sunfish undergo a very complicated metamorphosis. HABITAT: It is pelagic and lives between two waters in the open sea.

DISTRIBUTION:
It is a fairly cosmopolitan species which therefore colonises all the temperate or tropical seas or oceans on the planet; this is why it is also fairly frequent in the Mediterranean.

STATUS:
Species not evaluated (according to the red list of threatened species).

CURIOSITIES:
It is called ‘pez luna’ (moonfish) in Spanish due to its silhouette which, at night, reminds us of the reflection of the moon in the sea.

OBSERVATION:
If you see its fin on the surface of the sea, could you distinguish it from a shark? Sharks always have a rigid fin and do not move it, but the ocean sunfish moves it from side to side as they use their dorsal and anal fins to move.

WARNING: an aquarium is a very delicate, constantly envolving environment. This means that during your visit you may find that one or more of the species listed in the tank happens to be missing for reasons completely beyond our control; despite our desire to ensure that visitors have the opportunity to see and learn about them all.