Hoodwinker Sunfish, Mola tecta Nyegaard, et. al. 2017


A Hoodwinker Sunfish, Mola tecta, stranded on shallow waters in Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Martin F. Gomon / Museums Victoria. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:
A grey to dark brown ocean sunfish becoming paler below, with irregular mottled whitish spots and markings.
Unlike other Mola species, the Hoodwinker Sunfish does not develop a protruding snout, head bump or chin bump, and lacks swollen ridges on the body - rather juveniles and adults have similar body proportions. The clavus has a rounded margin and is separated into upper and lower parts that are connected by a small flexible indented piece of skin, termed the “back-fold”.
Video of a Hoodwinker Sunfish filmed off Chile.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Mola tecta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Aug 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/5366

Hoodwinker Sunfish, Mola tecta Nyegaard, et. al. 2017

More Info


Distribution

New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia. Elsewhere the species occurs in temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere, around New Zealand (mostly around the South Island), off South Africa and off southern Chile. Like other ocean sunfish, this species is likely to dive hundreds of metres to feed, and warm their bodies by basking on their sides at the surface.

Features

Dorsal fin 16-18; Anal fin 13-15; Pectoral fin 11-13.
Clavus meristics: 15–17 fin rays (13–15 principal, 2 minor), 5–7 ossicles, paraxial ossicles separate. Clavus morphology: prominent smooth band back-fold, rounded clavus edge with an indent. Body scale morphology: raised conical midpoints, non-branching. 
Body scales sparsely set, conical, varying in size without branching tips.
M. tecta does not develop a protruding snout, head bump or chin bump, and has a short dorsolateral ridge extending to the rear of the pectoral fin; body proportions remain similar with growth.

Feeding

Feeds on salps and siphonophores (based on gut contents of several specimens).

Etymology

The specific name tecta is from the Latin tectus (disguised, hidden), as this species evaded discovery for nearly three centuries, despite the keen interest among early sunfish taxonomists and the continued attention these curious fish receive.
The common name, ‘Hoodwinker’, pertains to the figurative meaning ‘trickster, deceiving by disguise’.

Species Citation

Mola tecta Nyegaard, Sawai, Gemmell, Gillum, Loneragan, Yamanoue & Stewart 2017, Zool J. Linnean Soc. zlx040. Type locality: North Taranaki Bight, west coast North Island, New Zealand (38°25.5′S 174°9.0′E), trawl, 78 m.

Author

Bray, D.J. 2017

Hoodwinker Sunfish, Mola tecta Nyegaard, et. al. 2017

References


Nyegaard, M., Sawai, E., Gemmell, N., Gillum, J., Loneragan, N.R., Yamanoue, Y., Stewart, A.L. 2017. Hiding in broad daylight: molecular and morphological data reveal a new ocean sunfish species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has eluded recognition. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zlx040, 28 pp. doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx040 Abstract

Quick Facts


Habitat:Pelagic, mesopelagic, oceanic

Max Size:242 cm TL

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