In the wild and vast ocean there is a fish that looks like a floating blob. It’s the sunfish (also called Mola) and it’s the world’s largest bony fish weighting up to 2.5 tons and reaching a size of 11ft. Scientists already knew this species, believing there were just two in the genus Mola (M. mola and M. ramsayi). But they didn’t know they would have found a third type one day. A new one that is so elusive that it’s been unknown so far. And it’s quite curious how a so massive fish may have been hidden all this time.
The new discovery is the result of years of research by Marianne Nyegaard, a Murdoch University PhD student from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences. She met a sunfish, for the first time, when she was just 6-year-old at a local natural history museum in Denmark, where she comes from.
Marianne remained so fascinated by this giant animal that started to devote her life to studying this type of fish…until she fulfilled the dream of her life: discovering a new, unknown and undescribed sunfish only few people had the luck and privilege to spot so far.
After several failures, Marianne and her team obtained some photographs and samples from a New Zealand local who was so lucky to see one. They analysed the DNA and ended up with an unknown clade (a group of DNA sequences).
This was what they were waiting for (maybe)…they discovered a new species they called “Hoodwinker Sunfish”(Mola tecta). The discovery is so extraordinary that they published their findings in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
It’s massive but hidden at the same time and how it’s been “invisible” until now we don’t really know yet. But if you want to spot one you must go in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemispere. Further researches may eventually reveal the enormous hoodwinker sunfish also lives in other areas. In the meantime, you can follow the “Mola tecta” story on Marianne Nyegaard Twitter profile and see how massive a sunfish can be on this video.
Credits: The Dodo