Mola Mola: The Weirdest Fish in the Ocean?
By Craig Leisher
When it hatches, a Mola mola is the size of a pinhead but will grow to be the heaviest bony fish in the ocean—and the weirdest.
The weirdness begins with the eggs. A female Mola mola or ocean sunfish produces more eggs than any other vertebrate on earth.
One modest-sized female had an estimate 300 million eggs inside her.
At birth, the baby fish are protected by a star-shaped transparent covering that looks like someone put an alien head inside of a Christmas ornament—albeit a very small only a tenth of an inch across.
Even as a baby, the Mola mola has its parents’ surprised look with the wide eye and open mouth.
The baby will grow fast. Very fast. One individual in the Monterey Bay Aquarium gained 822 pounds in just 15 months (almost 2 pounds a day).
By the time it is an adolescent, the fish will have not tail fin, no ribs, a fused spine, and will swim by flapping its dorsal fin on the top and its anal fin on the bottom.
It will look like a giant swimming head.
Mola molas spend much of their lives in the open ocean chasing the sea jellie (a.k.a. jellyfish) they often eat. They have unusual teeth that are fused together inside a mouth they never close.
They are called the ocean sunfish because they are frequently seen catching rays on the ocean surface. One reason they float on the surface is so birds can peck out the parasites off their skin.
And they have a lot of parasites. More than 50 species of parasites have been recorded on and inside Mola molas.
Like sharks and rays, the female are far bigger than the males. The heaviest Mola mola on record is a female caught in 1996 that weighed 5,071 pounds (2,300 kg).
Here a picture from 1910 of a Mola mola that weighed an estimate 3,500 pounds. (1,600 kg).
The huge decline in shark populations and far greater numbers of sea jellies in the ocean mean Mola molas now have fewer predators and more food. The 21th century looks like a good one if you’re a Mola mola.
But who knows for how long. Given that they are one of the few large fish in the ocean that are doing well, don’t be surprised if someone gives the Mola Mola a catchy new name and starts selling them globally, just as marketers did for the Slimehead (Orange Roughy) and the Patagonia toothfish (Chilean sea bass).
You can see a Mola molas at a Nature Conservancy-supported marine protected area near Bali, Indonesia. The Mola mola congregate near Nusa Penida Island, and during the peak of mola season in October, there is a great chance of seeing the weirdness (and the parasites) of the Mola mola firsthand.
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Despite what you’ve heard, there are actual sounds in space.
Due to the virtual vacuum in space, it’s not sound like you and I experience it (that being waves pulsing through the air), but there are electromagnetic waves that pulsate at the same wavelength as the sound waves we can hear.
Instruments on several NASA probes including Voyager have recorded these waves and translated them into a sound that we can hear, and they are all kinds of spooky. This is the kind of thing you hear in a movie just before someone opens a door in a dark hallway.
So, take a listen to the true nature of the solar system. And sleep tight.
Hydra is a genus of small, simple, fresh-water animals that possess radial symmetry. Hydra are predatory animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria and the class Hydrozoa. They can be found in most unpolluted fresh-water ponds, lakes, and streams in the temperate and tropical regions and can be found by gently sweeping a collecting net through weedy areas. They are multicellular organisms which are usually a few millimetres long and are best studied with a microscope. Biologists are especially interested in Hydra due to their regenerative ability; and that they appear not to age or to die of old age.
Hydra has a tubular body up to 10 mm (0.39 in) long when extended, secured by a simple adhesive foot called the basal disc. Gland cells in the basal disc secrete a sticky fluid that accounts for its adhesive properties.
At the free end of the body is a mouth opening surrounded by one to twelve thin, mobile tentacles. Each tentacle, or cnida (plural: cnidae), is clothed with highly specialised stinging cells called cnidocytes. Cnidocytes contain specialized structures called nematocysts, which look like miniature light bulbs with a coiled thread inside. At the narrow outer edge of the cnidocyte is a short trigger hair called a cnidocil. Upon contact with prey, the contents of the nematocyst are explosively discharged, firing a dart-like thread containing neurotoxins into whatever triggered the release which can paralyse the prey, especially if many hundreds of nematocysts are fired.
Hydra has two main body layers, which makes it “diploblastic”. The layers are separated by mesoglea, a gel-like substance. The outer layer is the epidermis, and the inner layer is called the gastrodermis, because it lines the stomach. The cells making up these two body layers are relatively simple. Hydramacin is a bactericide recently discovered in Hydra; it protects the outer layer against infection.
The nervous system of Hydra is a nerve net, which is structurally simple compared to mammalian nervous systems. Hydra does not have a recognizable brain or true muscles. Nerve nets connect sensory photoreceptors and touch-sensitive nerve cells located in the body wall and tentacles.
from Rare Animals