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A giant 3-ton sunfish recently discovered near a Portuguese island has set a new world record for the heaviest bony fish ever recorded, according to a new study.
The scaly colossus, known as a giant sunfish or a round-headed sunfish (Mola Alessandrini), was discovered on December 9, 2021 while floating lifeless off the coast of Faial Island in the Azores, a group of Portuguese islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. Local authorities collected the heavy carcass and brought it back to port so it could be properly studied, according to a statement from the Atlantic Naturalist Association, a non-profit conservation and research organization based on the island. by Faial.
The researchers performed an autopsy on the giant sunfish and detailed the results in a new study, published Oct. 11 in the Journal of Fish Biology (opens in a new tab). The huge fish was about 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall and about 11 feet (3.5 m) long and weighed a whopping 6,049 pounds (2,744 kilograms) or about 3 tons (2.7 tons). The researchers also analyzed the sunfish’s stomach contents and took samples of its DNA, according to the statement.
The dead fish is a “truly majestic specimen,” study lead author José Nuno Gomes-Pereira, a marine biologist with the Atlantic Naturalist Association, told Live Science in an email. The images of his dead body don’t do justice to how incredible it must have appeared in the water, he added.
Related: What is the largest freshwater fish in the world?
The previous world record for heaviest bony fish was held by another giant sunfish caught in Japan in 1996, weighing approximately 5,070 lbs (2,300 kg), according to the Guinness World Records (opens in a new tab).
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Sunfish get their name not from their circular body shape, but because they bask in sunlight on the ocean’s surface, which scientists believe is how they warm up after long dives in cold, dark water in search of food. , according to the statement.
Giant sunfish were previously misclassified as unusually large individuals of the more common ocean sunfish (Grinding wheel), which grow to about half the size of the recently discovered colossus. M. alessandrini was classified as a unique species in 2018, thanks to a study published in the journal Ichthyological research (opens in a new tab).
Giant sunfish can be found all over the world, but their exact numbers are unknown.
In June, fishermen in Cambodia faltered the heaviest freshwater fish in the worlda 4 meter long giant freshwater parsnip (Urogymnus polylepis) which weighed a whopping 661 pounds (300 kg).