Overview

Brief Summary

Mola is a genus of two species (Mola mola and Mola ramsayi) in the family Molidae, the ocean sunfish. Mola mola is the most common of the ocean sunfish and gave the Molidae their English common name from its habit of "sunbathing" at the ocean surface. Molidae is one of the most recently evolved groups of fishes, descending from reef fish just 40 million years ago and is in the order Tetraodontiformes, which includes puffers and porcupine fish.

Mola grow to be large, with an average size of 1.8m (6ft) and a record size of 3.1m (10ft). They have rough and leathery skin covered with a thick coat of mucus. Their coloration ranges from silvery-gray through spotted to white and they are capable of sudden changes in color in response to unexpected stress, such as predator attacks. Their life span remains unknown.

Mola have a diverse diet and are known to feed at multiple levels in the water column, but they focus on gelatinous floating prey like jellyfish. Mola are infamous for the high count and numerous types of parasites that can be found on any single individual. Their large size allows them some security from predators, but they suffer large losses as bycatch in human fisheries.

  • Oceansunfish.org. (2010). The ocean sunfish: facts. Retrieved from: oceansunfish.org.
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 3825 specimens in 3 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 3141 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 4600
  Temperature range (°C): 1.478 - 26.831
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.119 - 30.890
  Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 36.508
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.107 - 7.599
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.045 - 1.981
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.565 - 80.155

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 4600

Temperature range (°C): 1.478 - 26.831

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.119 - 30.890

Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 36.508

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.107 - 7.599

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.045 - 1.981

Silicate (umol/l): 0.565 - 80.155
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 16
Specimens with Sequences: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 14
Species: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Public Records: 8
Public Species: 1
Public BINs: 2
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Mola (fish)

A sunfish (or mola) is any fish in the Mola genus (family Molidae). The fishes develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin, with which they are born, never grows. Instead, it folds into itself as the creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus. Mola in Latin means "millstone" and describes the ocean sunfish’s somewhat circular shape. They are a silvery color and have a rough skin texture.

The mola are the heaviest of all the bony fish, with large specimens reaching 14 ft (4.3 m) vertically and 10 ft (3.0 m) horizontally and weighing nearly 5,000 lb (2,300 kg). Sharks and rays can be heavier, but they are cartilaginous fish.

Mola are found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They are frequently seen basking in the sun near the surface and are often mistaken for sharks when their huge dorsal fins emerge above the water. Their teeth are fused into a beak-like structure, and they are unable to fully close their relatively small mouths.

Ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on them. Sunfish will even breach the surface up to 10 ft (3.0 m) in the air, in an attempt to shake the parasites.

They are clumsy swimmers, waggling their large dorsal and anal fins to move, and steering with their clavus. Their food of choice is jellyfish, though they will eat small fish and huge amounts of zooplankton and algae, as well. They are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often approach divers.

Their population is considered stable, though they frequently are snagged in drift gill nets and can suffocate on sea trash, like plastic bags (which resemble jellyfish).

Species[edit]

The two extant species in this genus are:[2]

They are also similar and mistook for two other species referred to commonly as sunfish.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Mola in FishBase. October 2012 version.
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