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The biology and ecology of the ocean sunfish Mola mola : a review of current knowledge and future research perspectives

journal contribution
posted on 2010-12-01, 00:00 authored by E Pope, Graeme HaysGraeme Hays, T Thys, T Doyle, D Sims, N Queiroz, V Hobson, L Kubicek, J Houghton
Relatively little is known about the biology and ecology of the world’s largest (heaviest) bony fish, the ocean sunfish Mola mola, despite its worldwide occurrence in temperate and tropical seas. Studies are now emerging that require many common perceptions about sunfish behaviour and ecology to be re-examined. Indeed, the long-held view that ocean sunfish are an inactive, passively drifting species seems to be entirely misplaced. Technological advances in marine telemetry are revealing distinct behavioural patterns and protracted seasonal movements. Extensive forays by ocean sunfish into the deep ocean have been documented and broad-scale surveys, together with molecular and laboratory based techniques, are addressing the connectivity and trophic role of these animals. These emerging molecular and movement studies suggest that local distinct populations may be prone to depletion through bycatch in commercial fisheries. Rising interest in ocean sunfish, highlighted by the increase in recent publications, warrants a thorough review of the biology and ecology of this species. Here we review the taxonomy, morphology, geography, diet, locomotion, vision, movements, foraging ecology, reproduction and species interactions of M. mola. We present a summary of current conservation issues and suggest methods for addressing fundamental gaps in our knowledge.

History

Journal

Reviews in fish biology and fisheries

Volume

20

Issue

4

Pagination

471 - 487

Publisher

Springer

Location

Berlin, Germany

ISSN

0960-3166

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Springer