Giant 4,000 pound sunfish was rescued from a fishing net off the Spanish coast of Ceuta

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The mammoth sunfish was 10.5 feet long and 9.5 feet wide. Enrique Ostel, who leads the University of Seville’s Marine Biology Lab in Ceuta, estimated that it weighed about 4,400 pounds, based on comparisons with other catches.

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“We tried to weigh it, but we only had a scale of up to a thousand kilograms, and in this case, we couldn’t use it because it was about to break,” he told Granthshala in Spanish.

Ostele told Granthshala that his research team has been working with local Almadraba fishermen, who use nets attached to boats, to catch fish like tuna, to study sunfish for four years. Based on their catch, fishermen and researchers select other species of interest to them when returning them to the ocean. However, in this instance, fishermen alerted Ostel and his team – who were working on studies of the invasive algae at the time – to come quickly and watch for a large-scale catch.

Because the animal was so heavy, the researchers used a crane to lift it after it was separated into an underwater chamber attached to the boat. They then measured its dimensions and took close-up photographs and DNA samples.


“We saw it in a book and scientific articles, and to put it there, to tell you the truth, I was very impressed,” Ostel said. “Above all, you also have to imagine the tension that arises in the aspect that we are in the sea, we are on a boat, the animal is alive, we have to cross it quickly into the open sea while no one is hurt. Will arrive.”

According to Ostel, while sunfish of this size have been recorded in other parts of the world, fishermen and other researchers had not seen nearly as large a fish near their research station. The sunfish had dark brown skin and rounded grooves along its edges, which led Ostel to believe it was a species of Mola alexandrini.

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“I see, on the one hand, the luck of finding it and finding it alive, and enjoying it, and swimming with it,” he said. “On the other hand, we were also lucky because it was difficult to manage with cranes, because we had to think that we were on a boat, that we were in the middle of the ocean, and an accident could always happen.”

The ‘Great Oddball’ of the Seas

According to Dr. Tierney Theis, a marine biologist and research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, Mola alexandrini is “truly one of the great oddballs of the ocean.” Thys told Granthshala in an email that although its outward appearance may seem cumbersome, it moves through the water with graceful feathering strokes from its long dorsal and anal fins, as if “flying like a bird on its side.” Is.” Mola are the only known sea creatures that can generate lift in this way.

While the species Mola molla, or common sunfish, has been studied more extensively than Mola alexandrini, the latter has carried many measurement records. According to Ostel, Mola alexandrini has fairly strong heads, but they lack tail feathers.

According to Thies, the sunfish discovered in Ceuta was probably over 20 years old and most likely a female, as no males larger than two meters have been found so far.

The world record weight of a sunfish goes to a specimen from Japan with a total length of 272 centimeters, or about nine feet, which weighed 2,300 kilograms, or 5,070 pounds. The tallest specimen on record, however, is 332 centimeters, or about 11 feet, but it was never formally weighed.

Mola alexandrini may have originated close to the water where it was found in Ceuta. They can also originate from New South Wales, Australia, and they have been known to travel thousands of kilometers – from Taiwan waters to New Caledonia.

According to Thys, the field of ocean sunfish research is very active, and a species called Mola tecta was named a few years ago.

Although researchers do not know how long Mola alexandrini can survive after spending time in nets – and little is known about their population structure or lifespan – the Thais are grateful that the fish were safe in the water that day. was returned as “Eat jelly, drink water, (and) live your wondrous life and arouse wonder and amazement among more people.”

“This individual is a colossal reminder that our world ocean still holds many mysterious wonders including massive marine megafauna that make us gasp with wonder and awe,” Thiess wrote. “Big-headed behemoths like this ocean sunfish could serve as powerful ambassadors to pique our curiosity, inspire greater understanding and fuel public desire to become better stewards of our marine ecosystems that support our planet.” life support system.”


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