A team of Portuguese scientists say they have discovered the world’s heaviest bony fish in the Atlantic Azores.
A giant sunfish, weighing more than 3 tons, was found dead in the water by fishermen on the Azores island of Faial last December, researchers said. A team from the Atlantic Naturalist Association, a Portuguese marine conservation organization, helped land this giant creature.
“Of course we realized it was a giant sunfish,” said researcher José Nuno Gómez Pereira of the Atlantic Naturalists Association. Told.
Gomes-Pereira and his team weighed and measured the fish with the help of a forklift.
It was 10.6 feet long and weighed about 6,050 pounds, according to a research paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Fish Biology. In 1996 she, a conspecific sunfish, broke the record set by Mola alexandrini to become the heaviest bony fish ever recorded. According to the research paper, it was found in waters near Japan and weighed about 2.5 tons.
There are two types of fish: cartilage and bone. According to Gomes-Pereira, bony fish such as carp, salmon and bass make up the bulk of the fish. Cartilaginous fish have skeletons made of cartilage and include species such as sharks and stingrays.
The sunfish found in Portugal is the heaviest bony fish ever found, but far from being the heaviest marine animal.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, cartilaginous whale sharks weigh about 11 tons.
According to WWF, the largest animal in the ocean (and in the world) is the blue whale, a mammal that weighs up to 200 tons and is about 100 feet long. It is also the largest animal in the world.
Gomes-Pereira told USA TODAY on Friday that the sunfish discovery was encouraging, in part because it showed the oceans could sustain life for some of the largest fish on Earth. The marine sunfish is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
According to Gomes-Pereira, accurate population estimates for the Mora Alexandrini species are lacking. He believes the number is somewhere in the thousands, based on the frequency of sightings by fishermen.
But this historic discovery also highlights a significant threat to large marine wildlife.
“This is also a warning, because we found animals dead. We need to do more control over boat traffic,” Gomes-Pereira said. The sunfish’s large depressions indicated it had likely died in a ship collision.
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Gomes-Pereira said large cargo ships sailing near sea islands like the Azores pose a threat to the rich marine biodiversity.
“It’s a breeding ground for turtles, sharks and whales. It’s an international issue,” said Gomez Pereira.
The phenomenon is particularly severe in the Pacific Ocean, where at least 80 whales die each year in cargo ship collisions, with the worst years recorded in 2018, 2019 and 2021, USA TODAY reports. is doing.
“In that regard, we can all do a little better,” said Gomez Pereira. “Sometimes it’s international law and it’s not easy. So I hope this finding can contribute a little to the discussion.”
Scientists also took skin samples of the fish and analyzed its stomach contents to learn more about this particular sunfish species.