A new study has revealed that a 6,000-pound giant sunfish found dead in the Azores is the heaviest bony fish ever recorded.
Researchers stand next to the 6,000 pound giant sunfish after it was discovered floating lifeless on the ocean surface. (Image credit: Atlantic Naturalist Association)
A gigantic, 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 scale-tipping behemoth, known as a giant sunfish or bump-head sunfish (Mola alexandrini), was discovered on Dec. 9, 2021 as it floated lifelessly off the coast of Faial Island, in the Azores — a Portuguese group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. Local authorities scooped up the hefty carcass and took 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 Faial Island.
Researchers carried out a necropsy on the giant sunfish and detailed the results in a new study, published Oct. 11 in the Journal of Fish Biology (opens in new tab). The humongous fish was around 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall and around 11 feet (3.5 m) long, and it weighed a hefty 6,049 pounds (2,744 kilograms), or approximately 3 tons (2.7 metric 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 at the Atlantic Naturalist Association, told Live Science in an email. The pictures of its corpse don’t do justice to how incredible it must have appeared in the water, he added.