Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Mola mola, Ocean sunfish

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deep oval, length ~ height
C very short, convex, no fin
lips horizontal



Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758)

Ocean sunfish

Body a deep oval (depth usually ~ length), strongly compressed; mouth a horizontal slit when closed, opens at the front, is a beak (without a central suture) composed of teeth fused to the jaws; gill openings small, on side just before pectorals; gill rakers are covered with skin; pectorals short, rounded; no pelvics; dorsal 17-18 rays; anal 14-18 rays; pectoral 12-13 rays; no tail base; dorsal and anal fins long and high, symmetrical, used for locomotion, at rear of body, their rear rays joined to tail fin immediately behind them that is reduced to a vertically elongate, short, blunt rudder, with bony ossicles on its margin, with an undulating rounded profile; skin thick, tough, with small round denticles.

Grey brown to dark blue above, often with large pale blotches, silvery below, fins dark.

Size: 368 cm.

Habitat: oceanic.

Depth near surface, 0-644 m.

Circumglobal, tropical to warm temperate; off Baja and the Gulf of California, and the Galapagos; potentially throughout our region.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Offshore
  • Offshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Near Surface
  • Water column only
  • Surface
  • Mid Water
  • Water column
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Zooplankton
  • Pelagic fish larvae
  • Bony fishes
  • Pelagic jellyfish/ctenophores
  • Data
  • Pelagic crustacea
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • TEP non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Island (s)
  • Continent
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Depth Range Max
  • 644
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Length Max
  • 368