Sunfish

Mola mola

About

A bizarre fish, silvery grey in colour, flat and circular, with no noticeable tail and two very large fins, one on each side, which make it look like a giant swimming head! The Sunfish is the heaviest bony fish in the sea and sometimes turns up in British waters after storms out at sea. May also be seen from ferries, 'basking' at the surface of the water on its side. Its mouth is adapted into a beak which is uses to feed on jellyfish.

How to identify

Unmistakeable.

Where to find it

A rare visitor to southern and western parts of the UK, particularly after westerly storms.

Habitats

When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

Although not commercially important, Sunfish are a product of bycatch and as a result are under threat from fishing activities. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Sunfish
Latin name
Mola mola
Category
Fish and sharks
Statistics
Length: up to 4m Weight: up to 2.3 tonnes Average Lifespan: up to 10 years
Conservation status
Common.