MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Sunfish (Mola mola)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Silvery to brownish grey in colour. Body short and tall, flattened like a disc. Ventral fins absent. Caudal fin replaced by a stiff fringe of skin. Dorsal and anal fins modified to form long 'paddles' that can only move from side to side. Skin leathery without scales. Small eyes and mouth. May grow up to 4 m in length and 2 tonnes in weight.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All Scottish and Ireland coasts, Irish Sea and off the south and west coasts of England, during the summer months only.

Global distribution

-

Habitat

Distributed throughout the world in tropical and temperate seas in open water to a depth of at least 360 m.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Body flat and disc-like, up to 4 m in length.
  • Silver to brown grey in colour.
  • Ventral fins absent whilst dorsal and anal fins form long 'paddles'.
  • Tail fin is a stiff fringe of skin.
  • Rough, leathery skin with irregular tubercles.
  • An overlying whitish fibrous tissue up to 1.5 cm thick.

Additional information

Often seen drifting at the surface while on its side or close to the surface with its dorsal fin projecting out of the water. Feeds on zooplankton, jellyfish, eel larvae and small deep sea fish.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:

Bibliography

  1. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. Fife Nature Records Centre combined dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ccc1ip accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  2. Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, 2018. Visual sightings data set 2003-2017. Occurrence dataset: https://hwdt.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-27.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/7axhcw accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  6. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/kd1utk accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  7. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/mopwow accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  8. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset:https://doi.org/10.15468/aru16v accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  9. Muus, B.J. & Dahlstrom, P., 1974. Collins guide to the sea fishes of Britain and North-Western Europe. Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd: London.

  10. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.

  11. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/opc6g1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  12. Nature Locator, 2017. Sealife Tracker. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/qgk3pg accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  13. Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, 2017. NBIS Records to December 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jca5lo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  14. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2017. NE Scotland fish records 1800-2010. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/kjrwnd accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  15. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Vertebrates (except birds, INNS and restricted records), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/dax3tf accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  16. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  17. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Fish (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/htsfiy accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  18. Wheeler, A., 1969. The fishes of the British Isles and north-west Europe. London: Macmillan.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Bleach, J. 2002. Mola mola Sunfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-10-2018]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1538

Last Updated: 11/10/2002