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Move Over, Mola Mola: There's a New Biggest Fish in the Sea

Sunfish, the giant swimming dinner plates of the sea, have long been known as the world’s largest bony fish. Now another 2-ton fish has claimed the title.

It’s no secret that sunfish are the largest and most hated fish in the sea. Their large and confusing bodies inspire unprecedented hatred from the general community, scientific or otherwise. They look like stiff and moldy pancakes with stupid spikes coming out of their weirdly flat bodies and gaping mouth-holes.


In the words of one particular hater:

“That just makes them these absolutely giant f****** dinner plates that God must have accidentally dropped while washing dishes one day and shrugged his shoulders at because no one could have imagined this would happen. AND WITH NO PURPOSE. EVERY POUND OF THAT IS A WASTED POUND AND EVERY FOOT OF IT (10 FT BY 14 FT) IS WASTED SPACE.”



A while back, researchers from Murdoch University in Australia sampled 150 sunfish DNA swabs and found four distinct species. The catch? There were only three species known to science at the time, meaning Marianne Nyegaard, the Ph.D. student in charge of the team, had discovered a fourth and entirely new species, National Geographic reports.

The only problem was that Nyegaard only knew about this sunfish thanks to this DNA sample and therefore had no idea what it looked like in the wild, if it looked different from other sunfish species or not at all. But the saga wasn’t over yet.

In 2014, Nyegaard got a tip that four sunfish beached themselves on a coast at Christchurch, New Zealand. Thinking that one of those could be the mystery fish, she followed the tip to check it out for herself.


And sure enough, these fish were the new species and none other.

Photo Credit: Marianne Nyegaard


The researchers called it the hoodwinker sunfish because it had evaded scientific knowledge for so long.

Photo Credit: Marianne Nyegaard


It’s actually one of the prettier sunfish (if that isn’t an oxymoron). Its body is slimmer and sleeker than other Mola species, lacking the scalloped lumps that make the others so distinct.

It can be found in a bunch of places with colder oceans: Tasmania, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and even Chile, where it probably makes the other sunfish feel shame for being extra lumpy.


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