"World's Dumbest Fish" Knocks Boat Out of Famous Yacht Race. "It's a Sun Monster, It's No Fish."
The ocean sunfish, a sea dweller, commonly known as the world's dumbest fish, knocked a boat out of an Australian race this week. The sunfish's claim to infamy is its size—the average sunfish weighs about a ton. It's an obstacle one sailor dismissed, to his regret. "I've heard all the stories in this club about people who have had impacts with sunfish and I've always thought it was one of the dock stories," sailor Louis Ryckmans said on Tuesday morning.
But the sunfish became a real and unwitting contestant in the boat race. Read on to find out what happened and why at least one analyst considered it to be "floating garbage" and "the world's dumbest fish."
Sunfish Interrupts Race
Ryckmans was competing in the annual Sydney-to-Hobart race when his boat experienced a collision. "We had an impact where my immediate thought was we hit a reef; it was that powerful," he said. "I happened to be in the back of the boat and turned around and there was a spluttering sunfish in the water that was probably worse for wear."
The sailor hadn't considered the sunfish a potential hazard. "On the high list of worries that one has, marine life did not occur to me once," he said. "I think the name is incorrect. It's a sun leviathan, it's a sun monster, it's no fish."
"The Biggest Joke Played on Earth"
The sunfish is not popular with sailors—or those influenced by pop culture. That's because a writer posted a rant on Facebook a few years ago that called the sunfish the "world's dumbest fish," the "biggest joke played on Earth," "useless," and "floating garbage." Ryckmans had a more immediate beef: The collision with the fish prevented his ship from repeating its second-place position in last year's race.
Floating Garbage or Miracle of the Sea?
Some marine biologists disagree that the sunfish is "floating garbage." They argue it's a miracle of evolution, able to grow massive just by eating jellyfish. The mola mola, as it's also known, is called the "toppled car fish" in Taiwan and "the swimming head" in Germany. The sunfish is the recipient of the Guinness world record for heaviest bony fish—the biggest caught weighed 5,071 pounds.
"A Big Floating Blob"
The ocean sunfish is described by National Geographic as "resembling a big floating blob" and by the Monterey Bay Aquarium as "the invention of a mad scientist." "Huge and flat, this silvery-gray fish has a tiny mouth and big eyes that vanish into an even bigger body with a truncated tail," the Monterey Bay Aquarium says.
Stupidity Most Treacherous, Writer Claims
But in her Facebook rant about the sunfish, Scout Burns argued its most notable characteristic has nothing to do with size. "'If they are so huge, they must at least be decent predators.' No. No. The most dangerous thing about them is, as you may have guessed, their stupidity," she wrote. "They have caused the death of one person before. Because it jumped onto a boat. On a human. And in 2005 it decided to relive its mighty glory days and do it again, this time landing on a four-year-old boy."
Fascinating and Unique
The ocean sunfish is a fascinating and unique fish found in the waters of all major oceans. These giant creatures can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh up to 5,000 pounds, making them the heaviest known bony fish in the world. Sunfish have a distinctive, round shape and a flattened body, which helps them move through the water more efficiently. They also have a large, triangular-shaped tail and small, beady eyes.
Sunfish are known for their slow movements and tendency to float near the surface of the water. They are also attracted to warm, tropical waters and can often be found near the equator. Sunfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of prey, including jellyfish, squid, crustaceans, and small fish. They have a small mouth and a short, pointed jaw, which they use to snag their prey.
Sunfish have a unique way of reproducing – females can produce up to 300 million eggs at a time, which are fertilized by the males. The eggs are then released into the water and float freely until they hatch into larvae. Sunfish have few natural predators due to their size and tough skin, but they are sometimes preyed upon by orcas, seals, and large sharks.
Considered a Delicacy
Sunfish are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world and are used in a variety of dishes, including sushi and sashimi. They are also considered vulnerable species due to overfishing and habitat destruction, and efforts are being made to protect them and their populations. Sunfish are popular with divers and snorkelers, who often swim with them and observe their unique behaviors.