Sunfish (Mola mola)

Irish Record There is currently no record or specimen status for this species in Ireland

Identification (photos courtesy Dale Robertson)

The Sunfish is the largest, bony seafish on the planet, sometimes attaining weights of over 2000 kgs and reaching over three metres in length! It is usually silver-grey in colouration with mottled blotches. The teeth are fused into a beak-like structure. The Sunfish is normally seen by anglers as it breaks the surface, the large dorsal fin sometimes initially thought as that of a shark species until closer examination reveals its true identity.

This species is not particularly shy, and will often allow boats or divers to get quite close for photographing. The Latin word Mola means millstone, and this describes the shape of the fish to some extent, but more bullet shaped, pointed at the mouth and blunt at the rear, with distinctive scythe-like dorsal and anal fins. At adult size, it has few predators, but its greatest danger is through commercial by-catch.

Where to catch

Although not really a target species, the Sunfish travels both temperate and tropical seas and oceans and is found world-wide.

When to catch

Not really applicable in this case. I have little knowledge of this species but only ever witness them around our coast during late summer.


Feeds mostly on Jellyfish, small fish, algae and zooplankton.


Again, not really applicable, but if you do hook one, prepare for an explosion of power. I once hooked a Sunfish off the coast of Achille Island. Thinking it would be docile, it took off at such a turn of speed it smashed my main line instantly!

This Sunfish swam alongside my boat 2015, and was approximately 2m tall and half a metre wide! Awesome

For article of that day, click here

For video of Sunfish swimming, click here



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