Alternate Title

Distribution of Molidae in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Document Type



We compiled all available sighting, stranding and bycatch data for the Family Molidae (molas) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) to assess spatial and temporal distribution. Overall, 483 records were collected from shipboard and aerial surveys, fisheries bycatch, and strandings. Molas were recorded year-round, with a ubiquitous distribution in both nearshore and offshore waters. Ocean sunfish (Mola mola) were sighted with greatest frequency during the winter (December thru April) in sea surface temperature < 24° C. Potential reasons for increased sightings during winter may be related to the lack of a well-defined thermocline in the NGOM; the species' "basking" behavior associated with thermoregulation; and oxygen replenishment after long, deep dives to oxygen-deficient depths.

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