Let’s Swim With Mighty Mola Mola
I like to start today by asking you to join me to swim away from the usual coral reef and have look in to the open ocean for a moment. As much as 90 percent of our living space of our planet is in the open ocean and it is the place where the life began and still begin. It is lively and lovely place. But we are rapidly changing the ocean with pollution, fertilises from our crop land, plastic rubbish, climate change and over fishing. If we continue to think about the ocean more and more reports are predicting that the kinds of seas that we are creating will be conducive to low energy type of animals like jellyfish or bacteria. Now even jellyfish are strongly hypnotic and beautiful they sting like hell and jellyfish sushi and sashimi just not gonna feel you up. In numbers about 100 grams of jellyfish equals to not more than 4 calories and of course ocean boiling and teaming with jellyfish is just not good place for other creatures livening in there too. That is of course unless you happened to eat jellyfish like Mola Mola.
Sunfish is not an ordinary predator it is the world largest bonny fish with ability to reach weight of 2 tons while its primary pray is nothing else but jellyfish. As we said before this jellyfish diet is nutritionally poor so they need to consume really large amounts of it in order to develop and maintain their great bulk. The common name of Sunfish comes from its affection for sunbathing as many times you can basically find them on the surface basking on the sunshine. The other name Mola Mola although it sounds exotic its actually latin and it stands for millstone and it is attributable to their roundish very bizarre no tale cut of shape.
This very bizarre shape is interesting fact on a first place and it doesn't make sense unless we look at it through the glasses of evolution. They appeared 65 million years ago, at the time when whales still had legs, as a small puffer fish on coral reef. Obviously the common corral reef must had been for this rebellious little puffer small playground because it decided to swim in to the open ocean and become a big fish. Definitely this dream took lots generation to full fill but eventually it turns right and this tiny puffer is now mighty Mola Mola. Maybe they look little prehistoric and unfinished, a bridge perhaps, but intact they shine on the top position for the most evolutionary late arrive fish along with the flat fish. It changed nearly every single thing about it self and because sunfish start to do it only 50 million years ago it makes it really young species compare to the rest of the fish being old or redesigning them selfs for more than 500 million years.
If someone is too busy or lazy to study the historic bones, sunfish fortunately give away they ancestry as it develops. First they start as a little eggs and they in Guinness Book of records for having the most number of eggs of any vertebrates on the planet as single female could have and cary in her ovaries as much as 300 million eggs. From that little egg they passed through the spiky little porcupine fish stage as a reminiscent of they ancestry, they school as a adolescents and become big loners as adults. They are vertebrate growing champion and they are for it in the Guinness book of records again as from they little hatching size until they reach adulthood they put on 600 million times an increase in wait. Now imagine if you gave birth to a little baby like that and you had to feed this thing it would mean your child would be expected to gain the wait of six titanics. I do not know how would you feed child like that and we still do not know how fast the molas grow in the wild we only have some indicators from captive grow studies which shows it is able to gain 400kg in 14 month.
Being loner in todays sea is a salvation same way like the schooling used to be before the industrial fishing started and schooling for most of the fish become not less than suicidal behaviour. Unfortunately molas even as a loners are still getting catch in nets as a bycatch (from 26% in California up to as much as 90% in Cyprus sword fish nets) and so if we going to save to world from total jellyfish domination we gotta figure out how the biggest jellyfish predators live their lives. Based on tag measurements we already know mola are not the greatest distance travellers. They have their territory and they travel within its borders, but they amazing divers. They start they morning dive and they go as deep as 600 meters where the temperature of water gets cold as 1 degree celsius. That may explain why we find them so often basking on the sun, who would not get cold in a water like that. But they are not lazy creatures they dance this wild dance between the surface and the depths many times during the day.
Mola Mola is an amazing fish. We still do not know much about its life habits but the facts we know so far makes it one of the most exiting underwater creatures you can get to know. Hope we will see them often this season and we will always grant them the respect they definitely deserve.