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Strange fish mystery solved.

Byline: Ocean Sunfish is the heaviest known bony fish in the world, says expert.

Dubai: The mystery dinner-plate shaped fish caught by fishermen in Ras Al Khaimah on Sunday has been identified as a sunfish.

Divers in Musandam have reported sighting the Ocean Sunfish or Common Sunfish, scientifically referred to as Mola Mola.

Dr Reza Khan, head of Dubai Zoo, identified the fish. He added that the fish should be preserved and kept in a museum.

The Ocean Sunfish, reportedly weighing about half a tonne, was reeled in after a four-hour struggle by Eisa Saif Darwish, a fisherman from the Sha'am area, on Sunday.

Jonathan Ali Khan, managing director of Wild Planet Productions, a wildlife film company based in Dubai, said sunfish had been spotted before in the region.

"Not frequently, but divers have seen them before, specifically in Musandam. There are quite a few records of them. They are pelagic fish and prefer warm waters.

"We don't know much about them and we don't know how far into the Gulf they venture but from Musandam through the Strait of Hormuz is their territory. The southern part of the Gulf would be too warm, too salty and too shallow for them," he said.

The Ocean Sunfish is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight of one metric tonne or 1000kg. The species is native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a fish head with a tail, and its main body is flattened laterally.

Khalifa Butti, RAK Higher Fishing Committee supervisor, said the fish is unfit for consumption. Sale of their fish is banned in the European Union, but it is considered a delicacy in Japan, Korea and Taiwan,

Khan added, "Some years back, another fish was caught on the east coast. Local authority's decision of declaring it as inedible was right its internal organs contain the neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin [a potent marine toxin]."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 24, 2009
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