Showing posts tagged as "mola mola"
The ocean sunfish and by-the-wind sailor are so nice, scientists named them twice! Watch as a Mola mola munches a Velella velella! Thanks to staffers Anneliese Kupfrian and Patrick Webster for the great video!
Gone in one gulp! The tiny “by-the-wind-sailors” that have been appearing on area beaches also happen to be a favorite snack of the enormous ocean sunfish (Mola mola), which can grow to be the size of a small car! (photo by Jodi Frediani)
By-the-wind sailors (Velella velella) are actually hydroid polyps—jelly-like invertebrates.The “sail” helps propel the animal on its journey across the ocean. In late spring and early autumn, hundreds of thousands of these drifting sailors wash up on the beaches of Northern California.
The velella stays on the surface of the open ocean for most of its life. To remain buoyant in the ocean, it has a series of sealed air chambers in its float. They travel in groups of thousands, and capture small fish with short tentacles that have stinging cells dangling underwater. (Although their sting is strong enough to stun a tiny animal, a human being would barely feel it.)
Learn more about the ocean sunfish
Bizarre? Or beautiful? The ocean sunfish is a visitor fave. You can help save molas by reducing use of disposable plastic bags. When these wind up in the ocean, they look like jellies—a mola’s favorite meal.
Hey, where’d you come from? Volunteer diver Ken Ehrhart gets a surprise from a friendly mola mola in our Open Sea exhibit.
(Charlene Boarts photo)
New Mola in Town!
There’s a new ocean sunfish on exhibit in the Open Sea.
Our Husbandry team added the sunfish (Mola mola) over the weekend and it’s acclimated very quickly. It’s swimming well and makes a beeline to the surface to feed when our staff puts a colored target in the water as a signal that it’s mealtime.
We collected the sunfish in Monterey Bay on September 11, when it was just over 2 feet long and weighed nearly 32 pounds. On October 25, when it went on exhibit, it was 2 ½ feet long and weighed 46 pounds – quite a growth spurt!
Then again, the Mola mola – its Latin name, which means “millstone” – DOES tend to get big. It’s the largest bony fish on Earth, with some individuals topping out at 5,000 pounds. One sunfish we exhibited grew to weigh nearly 900 pounds before we returned it to the wild, with the help of a helicopter.
We’ve temporarily moved our two green sea turtles behind the scenes to help the sunfish adjust to its new surroundings. Before it gets too large, we’ll fit the sunfish with a tracking tag and release it in Monterey Bay. Based on results from other sunfish we’ve released, it will do well and travel far.
(© Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder)
Fish, or invention of a mad scientist? Either way, the mysterious Mola mola is an all-time Aquarium favorite. We’re glad to say that we just placed two on exhibit, weighing 57 and 75 pounds!
(© Charlene Boarts)
Love the ocean sunfish, or mola mola? Some people think it looks like a fish designed by a committee, with a broad body and abbreviated tail section. Molas hatch from tiny eggs but grow to weigh more than a pickup truck. You can see one in our Open Sea exhibit!
Moving the Ocean Sunfish into Our New Exhibit
What does it take to move a 352-pound ocean sunfish into our new Open Sea exhibit? Lots of people, some powerful equipment, and a great deal of care! This fish has grown from 34 pounds to its current weight at the Aquarium, and you can see it now on exhibit.