Marine Biodiversity Records

Research Article

First record of the southern ocean sunfish, Mola ramsayi, in the Galápagos Marine Reserve

Tierney M. Thysa1 c1, Jonathan Whitneya2, Alex Hearna3, Kevin C. Wenga4, Cesar Peñaherreraa5, L. Jawada6, J. Alfaro-Shiguetoa7, J.C. Mangela7 and Stephen A. Karla2

a1 Ocean Sunfish Research and Tagging Program, 25517 Hacienda Place, Suite C Carmel, CA, 93923

a2 Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i, Mānoa, PO Box 1346, Kāne’ohe, HI, 96744

a3 Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, 1088 Academic Surge, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA, 95616-5270

a4 Oceanography Department, Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822

a5 Charles Darwin Foundation, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, Ecuador

a6 Natural Sciences, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Tamaki Paenga Hira, The Domain, Private Bag 92018, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

a7 Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, TR10 9EZ, UK


Ocean sunfish from the genus Mola, family Molidae, are the world's heaviest bony fish, reaching 2500 kg, primarily on a diet of gelatinous zooplankton. Three molid species are reported to occur in the Galápagos archipelago: Mola mola, Masturus lanceolatus and Ranzania laevis. To date, no genetic analysis of any molid has been conducted in Galápagos. In October 2011, tissue samples were obtained from nine sunfish at Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island, genetically analysed and found to be Mola ramsayi—the southern sunfish. This marks the first record of M. ramsayi in Galápagos waters.

(Received February 24 2013)

(Accepted April 11 2013)


  • Molidae;
  • Tetraodontiformes;
  • distribution expansion


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: T.M. Thys, Ocean Sunfish Research and Tagging Program, 25517 Hacienda Place, Suite C Carmel, CA, 93923 email: