Actinopteri (ray-finned fishes) > Tetraodontiformes
(Puffers and filefishes) > Molidae
(Molas or Ocean Sunfishes)
Etymology: Mola: Latin, mola, -ae = stone mill; because of the shape of this fish (Ref. 45335); tecta: Name from Latin 'tectus' meaning disguised or hidden, as this species evaded discovery for nearly three centuries.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; pelagic-oceanic; depth range - m (Ref. ), usually - m (Ref. ). Temperate; 0°C -
Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri
Widespread in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere (with confirmed occurrence in the southeast of Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria), around New Zealand, off South Africa and Chilean waters) and with occasional, but presumably rare, occurrences in the Northern Hemisphere.
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 242 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 115933)
This species likely exhibits a similar biology to the other Mola species whereby feeding takes place during deep dives. Stomach contents of three specimens consisted of salps (Thetys vagina and Pyrosoma sp.) and the remains of a nectonic siphonophore, and in one instance, a 3 × 5 mm Styrofoam ball. All dissected specimens were heavily infested with parasites, particularly in the intestines (cestodes) and in the liver (likely larval Trypanorhynch cestodes). Gonadal shape differs between the sexes; the ovary is singular and ball-shaped, the testis are paired, elongated and rod-like and do not appear to frill during maturation. Migrations and spawning grounds, eggs, larvae and pre-juveniles are unknown (Ref. 115933).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Nyegaard, M., E. Sawai, N. Gemmell, J. Gillum, N.R. Loneragan, Y. Yamanoue and A.L. Stewart, 2017. Hiding in broad daylight: molecular and morphological data reveal a new ocean sunfish species (Tetrodontiformes: Molidae) that has eluded recognition. Zool. J. of the Linn. Soc., 1-28. (Ref. 115933)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 124695)
Threat to humans
CountriesFAO areasEcosystemsOccurrencesIntroductionsStocksEcologyDietFood itemsFood consumptionRation
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningSpawning aggregationFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingNutrientsMass conversion
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.6562 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.02455 (0.01027 - 0.05865), b=3.02 (2.81 - 3.23), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 3.8 ±0.6 se; based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Very high vulnerability (83 of 100) .