World’s largest bony fish washing up on Florida beaches — Parasites to blame? (PHOTOS)

Freshly dead ocean sunfish (Mola mola) available for salvage at Cape Florida, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, February 4, 2011:

To anyone interested:

A (relatively) freshly dead ocean sunfish (Mola mola) is currently washed up on the rocks near the lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, on Key Biscayne.  It measures approximately 7’ long and has a single shark bite out of one fin.  It may be gone by the next high tide.

If anyone is interested in salvaging this dead fish, please contact me at the telephone number below.  Right now, who ever contacts the park first will have the first rights to the animal.

Elizabeth Golden, Park Biologist

Sunfish Beaches Self On St. Augustine Beac
h, News 4 Jacksonville, February 16, 2011:

An ocean sunfish beached itself Wednesday morning along the south end of St. Augustine Beach. …

The first people to see the fish called the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, thinking it was a whale that had beached. …

The ocean sunfish is the world’s largest bony fish.

Large, Dead Fish on St. Augustine Beach, First Coast News, February 16, 2011:

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. — Officials are again on the beach trying to figure out what killed a large sea creature.

It’s a sharp-tailed mola, a sunfish, and it was found on the beach near the Holiday Inn early this morning.

Earlier in February, a right whale died and was dragged onto the beach for a necropsy.

FWC officials investigating dead sunfish, St. Augustine, February 16, 2011:

Florida Fish and Wildlife biologists are working on St. Augustine Beach today to determine what may have killed a large sharp-tailed mola, otherwise known as an oceanic sunfish.

The 9-foot long, over 500-pound fish washed up on St. Augustine Beach near A Street early this morning. Officials said the fish was alive when they arrived, but died in the sand later in the day.

Parasites were found inside the fish, but the cause of death is unknown at this time.

Photos here and here.

Probing An Oil-Stained Legacy
, National Wildlife Federation, April 1, 1993:

State and federal scientists have found the effects of the oil in organisms from fish to whales – in such forms as brain damage, reproductive failure, genetic damage, structural deformities such as curved spines, lethargy, lowered growth rates and body weights, changed feeding habits, reduced egg volume, eye tumors, increased numbers of parasites, liver damage and behavioral abnormalities.

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