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Fish #212 Ocean Sunfish Mola mola ~ Steve Cobbin
Acrylic on canvas 41 x 60 cm
The Ocean Sunfish or Common Mola is the heaviest known bony (that is not cartilaginous, as in sharks and rays) fish. They weigh in typically at 250kg (30stone) but can be as heavy as 1000kg (150 stone). They can be up to 3.3m long. They are found throughout tropical and temperate seas around the earth The Ocean Sunfish is basically a fish head with a tail. Its body is flattened, but not like a flatfish or a ray, laterally making them as tall as they are long. They eat mainly jellyfish, which are more or less blobs of mobile soup and lacking much nutrition so they have to eat masses of them. Female Molas are the greatest mothers of the vertebrates; they lay up to 300,000,000 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch into fry which look like tiny pufferfish with large fins, a tail and body spines, very different to the adults. Not only are Sunfish the most prolific parents, the offspring hold the growth record of all vertebrates. By adulthood they may have increase more than 60,000,000 times their birth size They have few natural predators. Sea lions, killer whales and sharks will eat them as do humans; they are a delicacy in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Sunfish and sunfish products are banned in the EU though they are frequently caught in gillnets. They are related to pufferfish, porcupinefish and filefish. They can be found near the surface of the sea, their fins sometimes being mistaken for those of sharks though they move very differently and adults spend a lot of time below 200m.
Fish #212 Ocean Sunfish Mola mola ~ David Carruthers
Class - Osteichthyses
Order - Tetraodoniforms
Family - Molidae
Genus - MOLA MOLA
The Sunfish is a strange truncated fish which seems to be all head, tail and no body. The name Mola comes from the Latin for millstone. In Taiwan they are called the Toppled Car fish, in Germany The Swimming Head and in France, the Moon fish. Sunfish are currently the heaviest boned fish in the world, in 1995, a 3.1m specimen was weighed in at 2,235kg. Related to the Puffer fish, Mola Mola are capable of colour changes particularly when stressed or under attack from a Sea-lion or other predator and can turn from light to dark within a matter of moments.
In my depiction of this extraordinary fish I included a photograph of a Mola Mola skeleton taken by Charles Dodgson, aka. Lewis Carroll, in 1857, a man who was no stranger to the surreal beauty of the world.
Here's a video of a Sunfish off the coast on Arran.
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