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Sunfish / Mola

Do you have photos of Sunfish (aka Mola) sighted off the coast of British Columbia or Alaska? If you do, you can help research into these fascinating fish. 

It's so exciting that there are actually two species of Mola in the NE Pacific Ocean - Mola mola AND Mola tecta

Mola tecta is the Hoodwinker Sunfish and, as the name "Hoodwinker" suggests it was hiding in plain sight. ("tecta" also means "hidden" in Latin). It  was only in 2017 that research was published on the very existence of the species and it was thought to only range in the temperate waters of the southern hemisphere. Only since 2019 has it been questioned whether they are found in colder waters and - they sure are! They've been mistaken as being Mola mola.

So, if you have Mola photos taken along the coast from California to Alaska, please contribute your data to this citizen science project by filling in the the blue data form below.

We are helping researchers Dr. Marianne Nyegaard, Dr. Tierney Thys, and Tor Mowatt-Larssen in their work to better understand Sunfish. We'll report back if your sighting is a Mola mola or a Mola tecta. Sightings of both species are of great value. 

There's information on how to discern the two species of Mola at the bottom of this page. 

See here for news coverage of the Mola tecta seen near Alert Bay by in October 2022. 

Further resources: 

All photos on this site © Jared Towers, Christie McMillan, Jackie Hildering, and Heidi Krajewsky, unless otherwise indicated. 
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© 2022 Marine Education and Research Society.
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