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Searching for sunfish

By Calley Chateau-Cyster
- Blog, Foundation, Marine Wildlife, Animals, Sunfish, Research
Searching for sunfish

Are you ready to dive into the world of the ocean sunfish? These fascinating creatures are some of the most unusual and interesting fish in the sea, and the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation has just launched a citizen science research programme to celebrate them!

First things first, let's talk about what makes ocean sunfish so special. With their round, flattened bodies and distinct dorsal and anal fins, sunfish have an instantly recognisable appearance. They can grow up to 2.5 meters in length and weigh as much as 2 000 kilograms, making them the largest bony fish in the ocean.

But there's more to these fish than just their unusual size and shape. Ocean sunfish are also known for their quirky behaviours, such as their tendency to sunbathe near the surface of the water. They'll often bask on their sides with one fin sticking out of the water, soaking up the warm sunlight. It's a behaviour that's both amusing and fascinating to watch.

So, why are we searching for sunfish?

Ocean sunfish face several threats in the wild including, being caught accidentally as bycatch, plastic pollution, habitat degradation, overfishing of some species, and parasitic overload. These threats can have a significant impact on ocean sunfish populations. In addition to these threats, ocean sunfish are also valuable as indicator species and open ocean ambassadors, because of the great distances they travel in their wanderings.

Since 2004, the Two Oceans Aquarium has assisted international ocean sunfish researchers with an opportunistic collection of tissue samples for DNA analysis, tagging of individuals, and collection of observer data from fishing vessels. The Aquarium has also rescued, exhibited, and released several sunfish found trapped in the basins around the V&A Waterfront creating the perfect opportunity to research sunfish, generating improved knowledge, and contributing towards their conservation.

Credit: Leigh de Necker

So, what are you waiting for? Let's dive into the world of ocean sunfish and celebrate these fascinating creatures in style. Join our sunfish campaign today and let's make a splash for sunfish!

Ocean sunfish deserves more attention and recognition for their unique qualities. By highlighting their quirky behaviours and impressive size, we hope to raise awareness about these amazing creatures and inspire people to take action to protect them.


But that's not all – we're also launching a social media campaign to get everyone involved in assisting us with the research. To participate, all you need to do is take a photo or video when you spot an ocean sunfish with the exact location and send it to us via email at or WhatsApp at 076 847 2431.

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