The Southern Ocean Sunfish or Southern Mola (Mola ramsayi) is one of the two generally recognized Mola species as of 2013, although there it appears likely that one or more cryptic species will be recognized in the near future (Yoshita et al. 2009; Pope et al. 2010 and references therein). Much less is known about this species than is known about Mola mola. For more information, see Mola, Mola mola, and the oceansunfish.org website.
Mola ramsayi, known commonly as the southern ocean sunfish, southern sunfish, or short sunfish, is a fish belonging to the family Molidae. It is closely related to its congener, the larger and much wider known Mola mola, and is found in the Southern Hemisphere. It can be found basking on its side occasionally near the surface, which is thought to be used to re-heat themselves after diving in cold water for prey, recharge their oxygen stores, and attract seagulls to free them of parasites.
Mola ramsayi has a relatively small mouth and its teeth fused into a parrot-like beak. It can reach up to 3.3 m (11 ft) in length. Their body is flat and round, with large fins that they swish back and forth to propel themselves with as they swim horizontally. Their skin has rough denticles, leathery texture, with brown and gray coloring with pale blotches until death when they turn white. Both mola species have no caudal bones, ribs, and pelvic fins and have fused vertebrae, leaving only their median fins to propel themselves. It can be recognized from the Mola mola by their lesser number of ossicles and lacking the vertical band of denticles at its base.
Mola ramsayi is found in the southwest Pacific, especially around Australia and New Zealand, and the southeast Pacific around Chile. Its range also extends to the southeast Atlantic near South Africa. This species is found in pelagic-oceanic temperate waters.
- ramsayi EOL.org
- Appeltans, W., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G.A., Fauchald, K., Gordon, D.P., Hoeksema, B.W., Poore, G.C.B., van Soest, R.W.M., Stöhr, S., Walter, T.C., Costello, M.J. (eds.) (2010) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)
- Diane J. Bray, 2011, Short Sunfish, Mola ramsayi, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Feb 2014, http://www.fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/784
- Southern Ocean Sunfish Australianmuseum.net.au
- Tierney M. Thys, Jonathan Whitney, Alex Hearn, Kevin C. Weng, Cesar Pen Aherrera , L. Jawad, J. Alfaro-Shigueto, J.C. Mangel and Stephen A. Karl. "First record of the southern ocean sunfish, Mola ramsayi, in the Galapagos Marine Reserve". Marine Biodiversity Records. Marine Biodiversity Records 6: 1–4. doi:10.1017/S1755267213000377.
- Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). (1994). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. (1986). Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Hutchins, B. & M. Thompson. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 103.
- Last, P.R., E.O.G. Scott & F.H. Talbot. (1983). Fishes of Tasmania. Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority. Pp. 563.
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