Animal Species:Sharptail Sunfish, Masturus lanceolatus (Lienard, 1840)

The Sharptail Sunfish has teeth in both jaws fused into beak-like plates. The species resembles the Ocean Sunfish and the Southern Ocean Sunfish, but can be distinguished by the median projection from the clavus.

Standard Common Name

Sharptail Sunfish

Alternative Name/s

Point-tailed Sunfish,Trunkfish

Identification

The Sharptail Sunfish has a deep compressed body with the dorsal and anal fins positioned posteriorly. The teeth in both jaws are fused into beak-like plates. Adults are uniform brown or greyish. Larvae are blue above and white below.

Size range

The species grows to 3 m in length.

Similar Species

Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola;Southern Ocean Sunfish, but can be distinguished by the median projection from the clavus. The projection is relatively longer in juveniles. The clavus margin is not scalloped.

Distribution

There is still much to learn about the distribution of the Sharptail Sunfish. It probably occurs worldwide in temperate and tropical marine waters. In Australia it has been recorded in the literature from eastern South Australia to south-western Western Australia. The fish in the lower images was caught in the Coral Sea off north-eastern Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Masturus lanceolatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Sharptail Sunfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?

Classification

Species:
lanceolatus
Genus:
Masturus
Family:
Molidae
Order:
Tetraodontiformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Hutchins, J.B., 2001 Molidae. Molas (ocean sunfishes). in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 6. Bony Fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes and marine mammals. FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-v, 3381-4218.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Sharptail Sunfish, Masturus lanceolatus, fishes, ichthyology, Molidae, grey, brown, round, odd-shaped, > 2 m, countershaded, pelagic, marine, adult,