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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2016, Article ID 8750193, 6 pages
Research Article

Tracking a Marine Ecotourism Star: Movements of the Short Ocean Sunfish Mola ramsayi in Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia

1California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
2Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA
3Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, VA 23062-1346, USA
4Conservation International, Jalan Dr. Muwardi, No. 17, Bali 80235, Indonesia
5Hasanuddin University, Makassar, South Sulawesi 90245, Indonesia

Received 16 May 2016; Accepted 13 July 2016

Academic Editor: Robert A. Patzner

Copyright © 2016 Tierney Thys et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ocean sunfishes, Molidae, comprise the world’s heaviest bony fishes. They include the short mola, Mola ramsayi (Giglioli 1883), an important tourist draw at Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, Bali, where SCUBA divers can observe ectoparasite-laden individuals being cleaned by smaller reef fishes. Despite widespread appeal, little is known about these fishes relative to regional oceanography. We present the first behavioral information for this species anywhere in the world. Satellite tag data indicate a wide thermal range (10–27.5°C) with depth occupation mostly (95%) in the upper 250 m and habitat preference near the bottom of the warm surface layer. One tag popped off as scheduled after 6 months off Nusa Penida, <10 km from its original deployment. The 3 other tags popped off prematurely: 747 km southeast 89 days after deployment; 142 km south after 7 days of deployment; and 162 km south after 24 days of deployment. Amid mounting tourist pressures and bycatch of M. ramsayi in eastern regions of Indonesia, such as Alor, behavioral information of this species is essential for effective management and conservation of this valuable marine ecotourism asset.