Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mola Mola

The Mola Mola (Mola mola), or Ocean Sunfish, is the largest bony fish in the world, and has been recorded at sizes of eleven feet from fin-tip to fin-tip. But you many ask, what about Whale Sharks! Basking Sharks! Certainly they are larger! But sharks you see, are cartilaginous, meaning they are made from cartilage rather than bone. This makes the massive, 3000lbs Mola Mola, the most massive of all bony fish.

Interestingly, the Mola Mola shares some characteristics with their large, sharky neighbors. Despite their large size, they eat only very small little meals with their parrot shaped beaks, comprised mainly of plankton, small fish, and jellyfish. Mola Mola are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world and are a pelagic species.

(Image Source)
Mola Molas have a couple of really interesting behaviors and characteristics. The first are swimming and basking. If the image is no indication, the Mola Mola has a laterally compressed body. In essence, it kinda looks like a dinner plate. It moves about by flapping its two large fins back and forth. Molas also bask on the ocean surface, laying side up. It is believed that this serves some sort of purpose is regulating body temperature and removing parasites. Did you also know that Mola Molas don't have scales? Their entire body is covered in an elastic, thick skin.

Mola Molas are also one of the most prolific egg layers in the undersea world. One small female was found with 300 million eggs in her ovaries, and a large specimen would most assuredly be carrying even more. Once the eggs hatch the Mola larvae resemble tiny little pufferfish, and they lose their spines as they grow. Pufferfish and Mola Molas actually belong to the same taxonomic order, Tetraodontiformes.

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