Giant 2.2m Sunfish Found Stranded on US Beach

In the waters of the Southern Hemisphere, a unique sunfish species was found on the Oregon coast. The Hoodwinker sunfish, measuring 2.2 meters in length, was discovered on June 3 on a Gearhart beach and remained there for several days. Due to its thick skin, scavengers have difficulty puncturing it, causing it to remain on the shore for an extended period.

Researchers from New Zealand were prompted by the discovery of this carcass to investigate further. After analyzing photos provided by the Seaside Aquarium, Marianne Nyegaard confirmed that the fish was indeed a hoodwinker sunfish, rather than an ocean sunfish (Mola mola). Nyegaard believes that this may be the largest sunfish ever recorded.

In her study published in 2017, Nyegaard identified hoodwinker sunfish as a distinct species from ocean sunfish through genetic samples and observations. The name “tecta,” derived from Latin meaning hidden or camouflaged, was chosen for this new species that “hides in plain sight.” Research findings showed that adult hoodwinker sunfish have smoother bodies with multiple humps like other sunfish species. They are found in colder regions in the Southern Hemisphere’s waters, including New Zealand, Tasmania, southern Australia, South Africa, and Chile.

Although it was previously believed that hoodwinker sunfish only inhabited the Southern Hemisphere’s waters, recent discoveries of their carcasses washed up on California and Alaska shores have challenged this theory. This suggests that their distribution range may be wider than initially thought.

In conclusion, this discovery has sparked interest among researchers worldwide as they continue to study this fascinating species and its potential impact on marine ecosystems.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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