Ocean sunfish found on Ameland safe in the freezer

December 16th, 2021
Naturalis-onderzoekers meten de maanvis op. 1.89 van snavel tot staart

The ocean sunfish that washed up on the beach in Ameland last Monday is now in a cold storage. Naturalis employees have taken some samples for research. The animal will be stuffed, and museum visitors will be able to see that process live.

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The washed-up animal, an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) has a length of 198 cm, height of 184 cm, and weighs about 400 kilos. As such, it is not the largest ocean sunfish ever to have washed up on a Dutch beach, but it is the largest in a long time. The largest ocean sunfish of Naturalis can be seen in our Live Science gallery. Coincidentally, that one also washed up on a 13 December (132 years earlier) and on Ameland.

Platwormen op de Mola mola
Collection manager Esther Dondorp shows a flatworm that lived on the skin

The ocean sunfish that washed up on the beach on Monday was found by the Rescue Team Sea Animals and died shortly afterwards. Naturalis wanted the specimen, but an animal of that size does not fit in our cold storage. Finding a suitable cold storage space was also far from easy because, with Christmas approaching, much of the freezer capacity in the region had already been rented. The fish was therefore first brought to Naturalis on Tuesday evening, where our staff measured the animal. They also took DNA samples and samples of the parasites still living on the skin, because we are interested in all biodiversity. After that, the animal was carefully covered with lots of ice so that it could go to the cold storage space as fresh as possible on Wednesday morning.

and investigating

Further research into the ocean sunfish will therefore have to wait until the animal is thawed again. That process as well as the work of stuffing the animal and producing a 3D scan of it can then be followed live in our museum gallery Live Science. That is the space in the museum where visitors can see our scientific work taking place. We do not yet know exactly when that will happen. In any case, the plan is to livestream a part of that work. So follow our social media, where we will announce the date!

onderzoekers aan het werk met de maanvis
Measuring and taking samples: a washed-up ocean sunfish is not something you find every day

More information

More information about our biggest ocean sunfish (a Mola tecta) can be found on our Top exhibits website. Read more

In our Live Science gallery, we regularly show preparations of animals as well as many other activities. Read more 

Within the ARISE project, we want to describe all plants, animals and fungi that occur in the Netherlands. Read more