3 Ton Massive Sunfish Shot by a Ship?


  • A massive size world’s heaviest bony fish was discovered in portugal.
  • The Sunfish found broke the record of the sunfish of the same species found in 1996.
  • The discovery also revealed about the threats on the marine animals who die because of cargo ship collisions.

A team of scientists from Portugal claims to have discovered the world’s heaviest bony fish in the Atlantic Ocean’s Azores archipelago, as reported by the USA today.

Great discovery

A fisherman discovered the giant sunfish, weighing slightly more than 3 tonnes, dead in the water on the Azores’ Faial Island last December, according to researchers. The massive creature was brought to land by a team from the Atlantic Naturalist Association, a Portuguese ocean conservation organisation.

“Of course, we realised it was a massive sunfish… we got the perception right on that day that it should be a world record,” said Atlantic Naturalist Association researcher José Nuno Gomes-Pereira.

To weigh and measure the fish, Gomes-Pereira and his team used a forklift.

Breaking all records

According to the research paper, which was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Fish Biology, it was 10.6 feet long and weighed about 6,050 pounds. It broke the record held by a sunfish of the same species, Mola alexandrini, set in 1996. According to the research paper, this one was discovered in Japanese waters and weighed about 2.5 tonnes.

Fish are classified as cartilaginous or bony. According to Gomes-Pereira, the majority of fish are bony fish such as carp, salmon, and bass. Cartilaginous fish have cartilage skeletons and include sharks and stingrays.

The sunfish discovered in Portugal is the heaviest bony fish ever discovered, but it is far from the largest ocean creature.

Largest animal

Whale sharks, which are cartilaginous, weigh about 11 tonnes, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

According to WWF, the blue whale is the largest animal in the ocean (and the world), weighing up to 200 tonnes and stretching nearly 100 feet. It is also the largest animal on the planet.


According to Gomes-Pereira, the discovery of the sunfish was encouraging because it demonstrated that the ocean can still support life for some of the world’s largest fish. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed ocean sunfish as vulnerable to extinction.

Estimate population 

According to Gomes-Pereira, accurate population estimates for the Mola alexandrini species are scarce. Based on the frequency of sightings by fishermen, he believes the number is in the thousands.

Life threatening

However, the historic discovery revealed a significant threat to large ocean wildlife.

“It’s also a warning – because we found the animal dead – that more boat traffic management should be implemented,” Gomes-Pereira said. The sunfish’s large depression indicated that it was most likely killed in a ship collision.

Large cargo ships, such as the Azores, pose a threat to the rich marine biodiversity, according to Gomes-Pereira.

“It’s a breeding ground for turtles, sharks, and whales… It’s a global issue,” Gomes-Pereira said.

Ship collisions

The phenomenon has been especially severe in the Pacific Ocean, where at least 80 whales are killed each year in cargo ship collisions, with the worst years on record occurring in 2018, 2019, and 2021, according to USA TODAY.

“We can all do better in that regard,” Gomes-Pereira admitted. “In some cases, it’s international law; it’s not easy. So, hopefully, this discovery will add to the discussion.”

To learn more about this particular sunfish species, scientists collected skin samples and analyzed its stomach contents.

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Source: USA Today


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