Size Records | General Info | Anatomy | Diet | UK Molas | Tagging | USA Molas | Asia Molas | Predators | Diving | Swimming Behavior | Genetics | Husbandry | Parasites | Spawning and Maturation | Edibility | Development | Bycatch | Evolution



Norman J. R. and F. C. Fraser, 1949, Field Book of Giant Fishes, G. P. Putnam and Sons, New York, New York.

Carwardine, M. 1995, The Guinness Book of Animal Records, Guinness Publishing, Middlesex, England.

A new world record...


Thys, Tierney. "Swimming Heads," Natural History (August 1994), 36-38.

Eliot, John L. "Queerest Fish in the Sea? The Massive Mola." National Geographic (December 1994).

Norman J. R. and F. C. Fraser, 1949, Field Book of Giant Fishes, G. P. Putnam and Sons, New York, New York.

Australian museum


Sunfish Literature (also, Google Japanese to English translation)
Featuring the tireless efforts of fellow sunfish lover, Etsuro Sawai from Hiroshima University, who has assembled a comprehensive list of relevant sunfish publications. Three cheers to Etsuro

Ocean Sunfish Wikipedia entry

Mike Johnson Marine Natural History Photography sunfish images and video


Retinal topography of ganglion cells in immature ocean sunfish, Mola mola Masakatsu Kino & Taeko Miayzaki & Tetsuo Iwami & Jun Kohbara
Environ Biol Fish (2009) 85:33–38; Published online: 12 February 2009 © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009 PDF

Peripheral nervous system of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola.(Tetraodontiformes: Molidae), Ichthyol Res
NAKAE MASANORI(Kochi Univ., Kochi, Jpn) SASAKI KUNIO(Kochi Univ., Kochi, Jpn)
VOL.53;NO.3;PAGE.233-246(2006) PDF


J. Syvaranta, C. Harrod, L. Kubicek, V. Cappanera and J. D. R. Houghton Stable isotopes challenge the perception of ocean sunfish
Mola mola as obligate jellyfish predators.
Journal of Fish Biology (2011) The Fisheries Society of the British IslesPDF


British marine life study society

Houghton JDR, Doyle TK, Davenport J & Hays GC (2006). The ocean sunfish Mola mola: insights into distribution, abundance and behaviour in the Irish & Celtic Seas. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 86: 1-7.


Tierney M. Thys, Alex R. Hearn, Kevin C. Weng, John P. Ryan and César Peñaherrera-Palma Satellite Tracking and Site Fidelity of Short Ocean Sunfish, Mola ramsayi, in the Galapagos Islands, Journal of Marine Biology, Volume 2017 Online:

Tierney Thys, John P. Ryan, Kevin C. Weng, Mark Erdmann, and Joeharnani Tresnati, Journal of Marine Biology Volume 2016 (2016) Tracking a Marine Ecotourism Star: Movements of the Short Ocean Sunfish Mola ramsayi in Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia

Tierney M. Thys, John P. Ryan, Heidi Dewar, Christopher R. Perle, Kady Lyons, John O'Sullivan, Charles Farwell, Michael J. Howard, Kevin C.Weng, Bertha E. Lavaniegos, Gilberto Gaxiola-Castro, Luis Erasmo Miranda Bojorquez, Elliott L. Hazen, Steven J. Bograd Ecology of the Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, in the southern California Current System in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology PDF

H. Dewar, T. Thys, S.L.H. Teo, C. Farwell, J. O'Sullivan, T. Tobayama,1, M. Soichi, T. Nakatsubo,
Y. Kondo, Y. Okada, D.J. Lindsay, G.C. Hays, A. Walli h, K. Weng, J.T. Streelman, S.A. Karl. 2010 Satellite tracking the world's largest jelly predator, the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, in the Western Pacific Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. JEMBE-49169PDF

Sims, David W., Queiroz Nuno, Humphries, Nicolas E., Lima, Fernando P., Hays, Graeme C. Long-Term GPS Tracking of Ocean Sunfish Mola mola Offers a New Direction in Fish Monitoring. PLoS One October 2009,Volume 4, Issue 10, e7351PDF

Thys, T., K. C. Weng, H. Dewar, C. Farwell, J. O'Sullivan, A. Walli, S. Teo, T. Tobayama, M. Soichi, Y. Kondo, Y. Okada, T. Nakatsubo and
B. A. Block. 2007. Tracking the world's largest jelly predator, the Mola mola, in the Eastern and Western Pacific, CLIOTOP Symposium, Dec.
3-7, Baja California.

T. M. Thys, B. W. Hobson, H. Dewar, 2000 Marine Animals: the Next Generation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle PDF

Tierney Thys, Ph.D., November 30, 2003 Tracking Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola with Pop-Up Satellite Archival Tags in California Waters

Note from the field

Daniel P. Cartamil, Christopher G. Lowe, 2004, Diel movement patterns of ocean sunfish Mola mola off southern California; MEPS 266:245-253 (Also: and

Inga Potter, 2007, Movement and Behavior of Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, in the Northwest Atlantic
Department of Zoology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire o:


Fulling, G.L., D. Fertl, K. Knight, and W. Hoggard. 2007. Distribution of Molidae in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf and Caribbean Research 19(2):53-67. PDF

Fitch, J, (1969) A second record of the slender mola, Ranzania laevis (Pennant), from California, Bull. So. Calif. Acad. Sci. 68(2): 115-118.


Tierney Thys, John P. Ryan, Kevin C. Weng, Mark Erdmann, and Joeharnani Tresnati, Tracking a Marine Ecotourism Star: Movements of the Short Ocean Sunfish Mola ramsayi in Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia Journal of Marine Biology Volume 2016 (2016)

Adult Emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator ) clean Giant sunfishes (Mola mola) at Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, Coral Reefs (2006) 25: 208 PDF


Gladstone, W. 1988, Killer whale feeding observed underwater, J. Mamm. 69 (3): 629-630.


Potter, Inga F. , Howell, W. Huntting Vertical movement and behavior of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, in the northwest Atlantic

Harbison, G. R. and J. Janssen, 1987, Encounters with a swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and sharptail mola (Masturus lanceolatus) at depths greater than 600 meters, Copeia, 1987(2): 511-513.

N. D. Phillips, C. Harrod, A. R. Gates, T. M. Thys and J. D. R. Houghton. Seeking the sun in deep, dark places: mesopelagic sightings of ocean sunfishes (Molidae) Journal of Fish Biology, 2015


Watanabe, Y. and Sato, K.
Oral Session: At Sea Observation & Laboratory Modeling of Animal Behavior, Biologging III Asilomar, Thursday, Sept 4th, 1645 hrs
The largest (up to 2 tonnes) and a globally distributed teleost, the ocean sunfish Mola mola, is commonly regarded as a planktonic fish. This is because they lack a caudal fin unlike pelagic continuous swimmers (e.g., tunas, sharks, and dolphins), and because sunfish are often seen lying on their sides and drifting at the sea surface. This common view was questioned by a recent study using acoustic telemetry which showed that the horizontal movements of ocean sunfish were independent of ocean currents. However, direct information on the locomotor performance of the species under natural conditions is still lacking. In this study, we attached multi-sensor data loggers with a time-scheduled releasing mechanism to three ocean sunfish (mass 48, 59, and 153 kg) in Otsuchi Bay, Japan. Loggers were detached from the fish 5 h after deployment, located with VHF radio signals, and recovered by a boat. The fish swam continuously (mean speed, 0.4-0.7 m s-1) with frequent vertical movements (maximum depth change, 108 m), using their dorsal and anal fins synchronously (dominant frequency, 0.3-0.6 Hz). In one instance, a fish accelerated to 2.4 m s-1 for 15 s horizontally near the sea surface with a right-rotated position (roll 48¡) and a high stroke frequency (2.0 Hz). During the recordings, no fish drifted on its side at the surface. These observations indicate that, unlike the common view, ocean sunfish are active swimmers.
Contact : Yuuki Watanabe,, International Coastal Research Center, Ocean Research Institute,
The University of Tokyo, 2-106-1 Akahama, Otsuchi, Iwate 028-1102, Japan


Vydianathan Ravi, Cai Li, Alison P. Lee, Michelle M. Lian, Boon-Hui Tay, Sydney Brenner, Jian Wang, Huanming Yang, Guojie Zhang and Byrappa Venkatesh. The genome of the largest bony fish, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), provides insights into its fast growth rate Hailin Pan, Hao Yu, , GigaScience September 9, 2016

Streelman, J.T., A.L. Bass, H. Dewar, T. Thys, and S.A. Karl, 2003, Microsatellite markers for the ocean sunfish, Mola mola. Molecular
Ecology Notes 3(2):247.


Keeping Molas in Captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium


Milton S. Love and Mike Moser, Dec 1983, NOAA Technical Report NMFS SSRF-77 A Checklist of Parasites of California, Oregon and Washington Marine and Estuarine Fishes; pp.432-436. PDF

Molidae Parasites PDF

Takuzo Abe, Keiko Sekiguchi, Hiroji Onish, Kota Muramatsu, Takehiko Kamit. Marine Biology DOI: 10.1007/s00227-011-1873-6. Observations on a school of ocean sunfish and evidence for a symbiotic cleaning association with albatrosses/PDF


Toshiyuki Nakatsubo, Masahiro Kawachi, Nobuhiro Mano and Hitomi Hirose, 2007, Aquaculture Science; Spawning Period of Ocean Sunfish Mola mola in Waters of the Eastern Kanto Region, Japan; 55(4),613-618

Toshiyuki Nakatsubo, Masahiro Kawachi, Nobuhiro Mano and Hitomi Hirose, 2007, Aquaculture Science; Estimation of Maturation in Wild and Captive Ocean Sunfish Mola mola; 55(2),259-264

Nakatsubo, T., 2008. A study on the reproductive biology of ocean sunfish Mola mola. Doctoral dissertation, Nihon Univ., Tokyo, 107p.

National Geographic article on mola


Bartholomew, Ian, Taipei Times RESTAURANT REVIEW Sankokuighi - February 1, 2008

Saito, T, T. Noguchi, Y. Shida, T. Abe, K. Hashimoto, 1991, Screening of tetrodotoxin and its derivatives in puffer related species." Bull. Jap. Soc. Sci. Fish. 57 (8).


Schmidt, J., 1921, Contributions to the knowledge of the young of the sunfishes (Mola and Ranzania), Meddeleser Fra Kommissionen For Havundersogelser, 4(6): 1-13.

Sherman, K. 1961, Occurrence of early developmental stages of the oblong ocean sunfish Ranzania laevis (Pennant) in the central North Pacific. Copeia, 1961, 467-470.

Yabe, H. 1950, Juvenile of the pointed-tailed ocean sunfish, Masturus lanceolatus, Bull. Japan. Soc. Sci. Fish. 16:40-42.


Hahlbeck, Nick & Scales, Kylie & Dewar, Heidi & Maxwell, Sara & Bograd, Steven & Hazen, Elliott. (2017). Oceanographic determinants of ocean sunfish ( Mola mola ) and bluefin tuna ( Thunnus orientalis ) bycatch patterns in the California large mesh drift gillnet fishery. Fisheries Research. 191. 154-163. 10.1016/j.fishres.2017.03.011.

Petersen, S., 2005. Initial bycatch assessment: South Africa's domestic longline fishery, 2000-2003. Domestic pelagic longline fishery: Bycatch Report 2000-2003. BirdLife South Africa, 45 pp.

Petersen, S. and Z. McDonell, 2007. A bycatch assessment of the cape horse
mackerel Trachurus trachurus capensis mid-water trawl fishery off South
Africa. BirdLife/WWF Responsible Fisheries Programme, 30 pp.

Silvani L., M. Gazo, A. Aguilar, 1999, Spanish driftnet fishing and incidental catches in the western Mediterranean, Biological Conservation, 90:79-85.


Nick Hahlbeck, Kylie L. Scales, Heidi Dewar, Sara M. Maxwell, Steven J. Bograd, Elliot L. Hazen

Santini F, Tyler JC (2002) Phylogeny of the ocean sunfishes (Molidae, Tetraodontiformes), a highly derived group of teleost fishes. Ital J Zool 69:37–43.

Santini F, Tyler JC (2003) A phylogeny of the families of fossil and extant tetraodontiform fishes (Acanthomorpha, Tetraodontiformes), Upper Cretaceous to recent. Zool J Linn Soc 139:565–617.

Tyler, J.C. and A. F. Bannikov, New Genus of Primitive Ocean Sunfish with Separate Premaxillae from the Eocene of Southwest Russia (Molidae, Tetraodontiformes), Copeia, 1992(4): 1014-1023.


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