Lots of people think the Mola Mola, or the Giant ocean sunfish is a useless and ugly animal. Well, to those people, I just want to say, you are terribly wrong. In this post, I want to introduce to you, the truly amazing Mola Mola.
As many of you must know, the jellyfish is nearly 98% water. That means, 100 grams of jellyfish equals 4 calories. You have to eat a lot of jellyfish to get full. Well, believe it or not, the Giant ocean sunfish feeds on only jellyfish. And not just any kind of jellyfish, the Mola Mola eats Moonjelly.
It has broke the Guinness Book of World Records for being the heaviest bony fish on the planet. It reaches up to almost 5000 pounds – on a diet of jellyfish, primarily.
The sunfish got it’s name for their love of sunbathing. Because of this behaviour, most people think they are sick, or lazy, but actually, this is a typical behaviour for them.
Their other name, the Mola Mola, is latin for millstone. They got that name because of their roundish, bizarre, cut-off shape.
They appeared shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared, and they come from a rebellious little pufferfish faction, who got sick of the shallow coral reefs, and headed for the high seas, and lots of generations later, that little puffer turned into the Mola. They may look a little unfinished, but I think evolutions never over, and who knows, another hundred generations, and they become beauties 😀
They’re in The Guinness World Book of Records again, for having the most number of eggs of any vertebrate on the planet. A single four-foot female has 300 million eggs. – Now imagine how much the ten-foot one has. – and from that little egg, they pass through a spiky little porcupine fish stage, reminiscent of their ancestry, and develop to their little adolescent stage, they school – as adolescents – and become behemoth loners as adults.
They’re in The Guinness World Book of Records again, for being the vertebrate growth champion of the world. From their little hatching size of their egg, into their larval stage, till they reach adulthood, they put on 600 million times an increase in weight.
Now imagine if you gave birth to a little baby, and you had to feed him. That would mean that your child would gain the weight of six Titanics.
We’re not sure how much they gain in the wild, but in captivity, they had one that gained 800 lbs in 14 months.
If we want to save the word from total jellyfish domination, we’ve got to figure out their predators lives. Tierney Thys tagged a Mola Mola with a tag that can record temperature, depth and light intensity, which is coordinated with time, and from that they can get locations. After collecting data for up to two years, it floats up to the surface, and submits the data to a satellite, which relays it directly to their computers, and that whole dataset is just lying on their desk. And all they had to do, is tag the Mola, and wait.
What we want to find out, is how do the Molas use the currents, the temperatures and the open ocean to live their lives. So after the data came back, they realised, the Molas don’t really travel much… like, at all. This is an important piece of data.
What is also important, is that they found out, that they’re not slacker, lazy fish. They go up to the surface, then down to the deep ocean 40 times a day, at least. As the sun comes up, they start their dive. As the sun gets brighter, they go a little deeper, down to 600 meters, in temperatures to one degree centigrade, and this is why you see them on the surface sunbathing all the time, because it’s cold down there. They come up, warm up, and then head back down, and go up and down, and up and down. With the help of tagging, they’ve seen a similar pattern for swordfish, manta rays, tunas…
So here you go, the fascinating life of the Mola Mola. Not at all lazy, not at all ugly, they’re just… one of a kind 😉