28 November 2012

Sunfish seeks help from albatross

The sunfish Mola mola is the world’s largest oceanic bony fish, found in subtropical and tropical oceans. It spends most of its time feeding on jellyfish in deeper waters. When it surfaces, it’s either for thermal recharging or to seek help to eliminate parasites, e.g., from the albatross. The sunfish lies parallel to the water surface to allow the black-footed albatross Phoebastria immutabilis to feed on the copepod attached near the base of its dorsal fin. The copepod belongs to the genus Pennella, and one of the 40 ecto-parasites (écto’ from Late Greek ‘ekto’, meaning outside) identified to inhabit the sunfish’s skin.[1]

Learn more about these species from FishBase and SeaLifeBase.

[1] Abe, T., and K. Sekiguchi, 2012. Why does the ocean sunfish bask? Commun. Integr. Biol. 5(4): 395-398.

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