A group of scientists in Portugal say they have discovered the world’s heaviest bony fish in the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
The giant sunfish, which weighs just over 3 tons, was discovered dead by a fisherman last December in the water on Faial Island in the Azores, researchers said. A team with the Atlantic Naturalist Association, a Portuguese ocean conservation organization, helped bring the giant creature ashore.
Researcher José Nuno Gomes-Pereira of the Atlantic Naturalist Association said: “Of course we realized it was a giant sunfish…
Gomes-Pereira and his team enlisted the help of a forklift to weigh and measure the fish.
He was 10.6 feet tall and weighed about 6,050 pounds, according to the research paper published in the journal Nature. peer-reviewed Journal of Fish Biology. It became the heaviest bony fish ever documented, breaking the record set in 1996 by Mola alexandrini, a sunfish of the same species. It was discovered in Japanese waters and weighed about 2.5 tons, according to the research paper.
There are two types of fish, cartilaginous and bony. According to Gomes-Pereira, the majority of fish are bony fish—think carp, salmon, and bass. Cartilaginous fish have skeletons made of cartilage and include species such as sharks and stingrays.
Although the sunfish found in Portugal is the heaviest bony fish ever discovered, it is far from the heaviest ocean creature.
Cartilaginous whale sharks weigh about 11 tons, According to the World Wildlife Fund.
The largest animal in the ocean (and on earth) is the blue whale, a mammal that can weigh up to 200 tons and grow to nearly 100 feet. According to the WWF. This is also largest animal in the world, period.
Gomes-Pereira USA TODAY said Friday that the discovery of the sunfish is encouraging in part because it shows that the ocean can still sustain life for some of the planet’s biggest fish. Ocean sunfish are listed as vulnerable to extinction. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Accurate population estimates for Mola alexandrini species are scarce, Gomes-Pereira said. He believes the number may be in the several thousand, depending on the frequency of the fishermen’s incidence.
But the historic discovery also highlighted a significant threat to major ocean wildlife.
“It’s also a warning that more management is needed regarding boat traffic, as we found the animal dead,” Gomes-Pereira said. Said. A large depression on the sunfish indicated that it died, possibly as a result of a ship collision.
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Gomes-Pereira said large cargo ships sailing near oceanic islands such as the Azores pose a threat to the rich marine biodiversity.
“This is where turtles, sharks and whales breed … it’s an international issue,” Gomes-Pereira said. Said.
The phenomenon is particularly serious in the Pacific Ocean, where at least 80 whales are killed in cargo ship collisions each year, with the worst years on record coming in 2018, 2019 and 2021. USA TODAY reported.
“We can all do a little better in that respect,” Gomes-Pereira said. Said. “In some cases there is international legislation, it’s not easy. So, I hope this finding can add some to the discussion.”
The scientists also took samples of the fish’s skin and analyzed its stomach contents to learn more about this particular sunfish species.
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