Per National Parks South Australia, sunfish are the world’s largest bony fish. They’re so large, in fact, that some can weigh as much as a car. The National Parks South Australia said the fish feeds mostly on jellyfish and can grow to be over two meters (more than six feet). Grzelak told CNN Jones described the fish’s skin as “leathery like a rhinoceros.” This particular sunfish was “only” 1.8 meters long, which is small according to the South Australian Museum. Little else is known about the Mola mola, as they were only discovered recently.
“The Mola mola is known for its large size, odd flattened body shape and fins,” Ralph Foster, the museum’s collection manager, told CNN.
Foster added that the fish Jones discovered was identifiable by the markings on its tail and the shape of its head. He added that the sun fish’s name comes from the fact that it enjoys basking in the sun. The Mola mola’s affinity for soaking up the sun’s rays means they can be hit by boats -- but it appears it’s not so much the fish you should be worried about. Foster told CNN some sunfish are so large they wind up sinking yachts when they’re hit by them.
“Researchers have been putting satellite tags and data loggers on these fish and found they will come to the surface and lay on their side on the surface, hence the name sunfish,” Foster explained. “Once they are warm enough they dive down several hundreds of meters and feed on jellyfish and stay down there for lengthy periods of time.”
He added, “We know very little about them. It’s only in the last few years that technology has allowed us to start learning about them.”
Foster said that the Mola mola “was thought to be a purely Southern Hemisphere species,” but it turns out that’s not the case. One such fish recently washed up on a beach in California and was identified after a photo was shared on the Coal Oil Point Facebook page. Experts from around the world weighed in, and were able to peg the strange species.
So little is known about these massive creatures. But at least one thing is pretty clear: they’re delightfully strange even by Australia’s standards.