Giant sunfish weighing over one tonne has been caught in the Mediterranean

In early October, Spanish researchers came across an aquatic behemoth off the coast of Ceuta: a sunfish weighing over 1,000 kg.

Scientists at the marine biological station in the Strait of Gibraltar have never witnessed this before. On 4 October, researchers from the University of Seville discovered a giant sunfishcaught in nets. It was swimming some 500 metres off the coast of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave bordering Morocco.

1,000 kg sunfish

The specimen was 2.90 m long and biologists measured 3.20 m between its fins. Two cranes on two boats were needed to lift it, but it was impossible to weigh it accurately before putting it back in the water: the scales did not weigh more than 1,000 kg, a statement said.

Led by Professor José Carlos García Gómez, these researchers are working to monitor the population of oceanic sunfish, the heaviest bony fish on the planet that frequent temperate waters and are classified as 'vulnerable' by the IUCN.

'It must have been about 2 tonnes, which is very exceptional,' Enrique Ostalé, coordinator of the marine biology station in the Straits of Gibraltar, told El País.

A 2.7 metre specimen caught in Japan weighed 2.3 tonnes. It is a pelagic species that is difficult to study, but we see a lot of them in the traps.

On 4 October 2021, he and his team came across an individual of the species Mola alexandrini. Thanks to the DNA samples taken, they hope to be able to differentiate genetically and morphologically between the Mola alexandrini and the better known Mola mola.

This is not the first time that sunfish have been observed in this area. Enrique Ostalé said:

One of the unresolved questions is why they are so numerous here, while they are absent on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
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