Tierney Thys: Molidae!

Don’t you love baby pictures?

Hi Jammers, If you’ve been following me for a while you likely know how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE giant ocean sunfishes, the Molidae. I have been studying this group of fishes for decades; following them around the world. I was drawn to their strange shape, fascinated by how big they can grow (2200 kg, 5000 pounds!) and enchanted by their seemingly curious expressions and behaviors. They play a super important role in the world ocean by slurping up jellies and blowing the minds of visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

One project I am working on is trying to figure out where these big tailless fish reproduce. They make an enormous number of eggs, upwards of 80-300 million in one female. That’s a whole lot of huevos. And their offspring are just as cute as, well…just as cute as…porcupines impersonating a fish! My colleague, Dave Johnson at the Smithsonian Division of Fishes in Washington D.C., has taken a wonderful picture of the baby sunfish below.

Imagine being covered in sharp spines as a baby! No wonder mommy molas don’t cuddle their little ones! But that’s okay; these little rascals are pretty much self-sufficient from the second they hatch. image (5) Photo Credit: Dave Johnson HQ