The Ocean Sunfish -
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Welcome! The giant ocean sunfishes, family Molidae, are some of Earth’s most fascinating yet mysterious creatures. These jelly-eating giants hold the record for being the world’s heaviest bony fish and occupy a unique place in the open ocean web of life. This site is dedicated to consolidating our current state of knowledge and announcing our latest research discoveries and those of others as they become available. Be sure to check out the research section and if you have recently published something on mola or produced a film with mola in it please, do let us know--we’d love to add this information to the site. We are also excited to share a new feature that involves you! If you are certain you have seen a mola, please add your sighting to our growing database by clicking here.

We welcome your comments, suggestions, additions, deletions and hope you enjoy the site. Dive in!

Oceanographic determinants of ocean sunfish ( Mola mola ) and bluefin tuna ( Thunnus orientalis ) bycatch patterns in the California large mesh drift gillnet fishery
The reduction of incidental capture of non-target species in a fishery (bycatch) is a key objective of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and critical to the conservation of many marine species. Read more...

Lots has been going on in the ocean sunfish world recently!!

Tireless mola taxonomist, Dr. Etsuro Sawaii, from Hiroshima University and his team from Japan have renamed Mola ramsayi to be Mola alexandrini and this renaming makes the world heaviest molidae not a Mola mola but instead a Mola alexandrini. For details see: Etsuro Sawai et al, Redescription of the bump-head sunfish Mola alexandrini (Ranzani 1839), senior synonym of Mola ramsayi (Giglioli 1883), with designation of a neotype for Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758) (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae), Ichthyological Research (2017).  DOI: 10.1007/s10228-017-0603-6  Read more 

Marianne Nyegaard at Murdoch University in Australia along with researchers from Japan and New Zealand added another species from the southern hemisphere, Mola tecta, into the mola mix. Read more

Dr. Natasha Phillips from Queens University in Belfast N. Ireland used thousands of sightings including thousands collected on this website (wooohooo!!) to compile a global view of ocean sunfish distribution patterns. Read more

Never a dull moment when it comes to these amazing behemoths with no tail but a tale to tell.  

Help Unravel the Mystery of the Ocean Sunfish click here
Seen an ocean sunfish? You can help Dr. Tierney Thys ( and her colleagues by reporting your sighting. Your sightings can help us understand the behaviors and movements of these amazing creatures. Any high quality pictures documenting your sighting are exceptionally helpful for species confirmation.

Sightings Latest Sighting
Date: 04/26/2016 1500 hrs
Location: N 36.910698, W 75.986748
Water Temp: 13 C
Behavior: laying on side, active
Marks: unsure

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About Tierney Thys

Citing this site

Adopt a Sunfish
Adopt a molaI’d like to tell you a story about a very special little girl who inspired the creation of the Adopt a Sunfish. Early in 2007, I was serving as a National Geographic expert on a ... read more
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