The fishery, by-catch and destruction of ocean sunfish are unregulated worldwide. In some areas, the fish are "finned" by fishermen who regard them as worthless bait thieves. This process, in which the fins are cut off, results in the eventual death of the fish, because it can no longer propel itself without its dorsal and anal fins. The species is also threatened by floating trash such as plastic bags which resemble jellyfish, its main diet. Bags can choke and suffocate an individual or fill its stomach to the extent that it starves.
25 April 2008
I have been taking notes for a section of the book about pufferfish and, more widely, human appetite. So it's nice, but distracting, to note that the featured article on Wikipedia today is on the pufferfish's tetraodontiform cousin the Mola mola, or Ocean sunfish. Particularly diverting, I think, is this photo of the fry, just two or three millimeters across. The tiny animal is embedded in spines so that it looks like a cross between a starfish and a fish: The article also has a striking picture from 1910 of an adult that weighed 1,600 kg, or 3,500 lb (although bigger individuals, weighing up to 2,300 kg, or 5,100 lb, have been observed): But just in case one is left with only a warm, slightly unfocused feeling of wonder, the Wikipedists (no great prose stylists) remind us that: