Masturus lanceolatus Click to enlarge image
A Sharptail Sunfish washed up on a beach at Honjo, Akita Prefecture, north-western Honshu, Japan, January 2005. Image: H. Sugiyama
© H. Sugiyama

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    lanceolatus
    Genus
    Masturus
    Family
    Molidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 3 m in length.

Introduction

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.



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.



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.



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.