Mola Mola is a large sunfish that lives in the ocean. It is called a sunfish because it often rests on its side on the surface on the water, giving the impression that its sun-bathing.
It prefers tropical waters, but can range as far north as Nova Scotia and British Columbia (both in Canada.)
Mola Mola feed both on the ocean surface and bottom. They mostly eat jellyfish, but will also eat crustaceans, small fish, squid, sponges, eel grass, and young eels.
They can live up to 100 years old, grow up to 10 feet (3 metres) long by 11 feet (3 1/3 metres) wide, and can weigh over 2000 pounds (900 kg.)
They are rough skin with no scales. Their bones are very soft, about the consistency of cheese.
There are actually several different species of Mola Mola. Some have tails, some have almost no tail at all (these ones lose their tail as they grow.)
Some people theorize that the ones who loll about at the surface of the water may be numb from cold water (when currents have carried them far north), or be stunned by jellyfish stingers while feeding on them, or be ill and dying. Others theorize it is to allow seagulls to eat parasites off them.
When they drift far north, young male sea lions often rip off their fins for what appears to be "sport."
Some feel that the taste of Mola Mola is insipid, and not worth bothering with. They are often populated with worms and parasites. In fact, there are so many parasites on them that when they approach coral reefs, excited schools of fish such as bannerfish often appear to swarm and "attack" them, to feed off all the parasites on them.
Those who have tried eating them say the only part worth bothering with is a central strip inside them, which before it is cooked is reminiscent of a gelatin.
The word "Mola" comes from Latin and means "millstone."
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Headfish; Makua; Moonfish; Ocean Sunfish; Mola mola (Scientific Name); Poisson lune (French); Bezador, Pez luna (Spanish); Manbo, Manbow (Japanese)