Not too long ago, locals who were strolling along Australia’s Kennett River beachside in Victoria were left equally stunned and mortified when they stumbled upon what appeared to be the carcass of an alien that had somehow found its way from the Eldritch depths and up onto shore.
Measuring over two-metres both lengthwise and in height, the behemoth creature lay flat on its side, mouth agape, glassy-eyed and very much dead. But what is it, exactly? Well according to Ms Rampton, who found the fish with her husband, Tom, knows exactly what they were looking at: a sunfish.
Rarely seen by the common layperson, the sunfish specimen that was found by the couple was actually considered small for its species, as Ms Rampton, who alongside her husband are both professional vets, told the press that the fish are known to grow to as much as double the size of the one they found dead ashore.
But size aside, the ocean sunfish or mola-mola, is actually one of the heaviest and largest known bony fish to exist on Earth. Growing to an average of 3.4 metres across when it reaches adulthood, this unusual fish can weigh as much as 2,500 kilos according to National Geographic. Despite that, these titans of the ocean don’t actually start out looking this gargantuan.
In fact, baby ocean sunfish aka sunfish ‘fry’, are actually minuscule in comparison to their parents. And that may be for the better when you consider the fact that female specimens of the ocean sunfish can lay as many as 300 million eggs, the most that any known vertebrae creature can produce.
Growing from their incredibly minute forms, these baby sunfish resemble more like puffer fish than they do their adult counterparts. As they grow older however, their back fin doesn’t actually grow with them. Instead, it folds up against itself and eventually creates what is known as a clavus, which acts as a rudder of sorts for the fish.
Odd and rare as they are, these fish are actually considered to be very much endangered due to the fact that they often wind up being snagged in fishermen nets or die a slow death choking on plastic bags, as they often mistake them for the jellyfish that they consume.
So if ever you have the rare chance of coming up to one in person, just relax and bask in the fact that you’re probably looking at one of the most incredible sea creatures that isn’t commonly known to man.
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