OCEAN SUNFISH

Scientific name

Mola mola


Sunfish are the largest bony fish in the world!

Size: Length: 10 feet, Weight: 4,400 lbs

What to watch for:

While they do swim, they are most often seen laying on their sides drifting with the current. They have very small pectoral fins and much larger dorsal and anal fins. The dorsal fin is sometimes visible above the water’s surface – it often flaps back and forth while floating at the surface.

They primarily eat jellyfish but may also feed on plankton, algae, and small fish.

Threats to ocean sunfish

Learn more about ocean sunfish

BASKING SHARKS

Scientific name

Cetorhinus maximus

Size: Length: 22-29 feet, Weight: up to 250 lbs

What to watch for:

Basking sharks have a series of 5 large gill slits on either side of their head. They have a pointed snout and are often seen with an open mouth, skimming the water’s surface for food in the form of plankton. Although they are the second largest species of shark (whale sharks are the largest!), they are harmless to humans and even a bit skittish! They are sometimes mistaken for great white sharks, but you won’t find any large, pointy teeth inside the mouth of a basking shark.

Threats to basking sharks

Learn more about basking sharks

WHITE SHARKS

Scientific name

Carcharodon carcharias

Size: Length: 15 feet, Weight: up to 4,500 lbs

They have up to 200 triangular-shaped teeth in their mouth and can be found preying on seals.

What to watch for:

White sharks rarely break the surface of the water, so they can be very difficult to detect. Often they appear as a “purple smudge” when looking down into the water. In Atlantic waters they are most commonly found in shallow areas (sometimes in only a few feet of water!) along the coast of Cape Cod and Massachusetts.

Threats to white sharks

Learn more about white sharks