The sunfish is the world’s largest bony fish, with the average size of one being 10 feet long and weighing 2200 pounds.
The biggest sunfish can grow up to an impressive 5000 pounds, and given that the average pickup truck weighs 4000 pounds, this is a pretty big fish.
With all of that size and weight, many people wonder, are sunfish dangerous?
In a nutshell, no sunfish are not dangerous. The biggest threat sunfish pose to humans is jumping out of the ocean and landing in fishing boats, which may injure the occupants.
Let’s take a closer look…
Are Sunfish Actually Dangerous?
Sunfish are mostly docile and calm fish that are present in many different tropical and temperate waters across the globe.
They look like a flattened silver disk, and, well.. a little strange. They get their name because they are often found near the surface of the ocean apparently sunbathing
Unlike many other species of fish, they don’t have a tail and instead use their large ventral and dorsal fins to move through the ocean.
But are these large fish dangerous?
Although sunfish are huge fish that are spectacular to witness in person, they are not dangerous to humans whatsoever.
The only problem with large, heavy fish that float near the surface is that they can sometimes cause problems for fishermen and sailboats.
Injuries from sunfish are rare, but in one instance a large sunfish jumped onto a family’s small boat and injured a 4-year old boy.
They also have some pretty impressive fused teeth, so it’s not wise to go putting your fingers anywhere near their large mouths.
Are Sunfish Poisonous?
Sunfish are not poisonous and don’t contain any toxins or harmful substances that could harm us humans.
These fish are actually nutritious, and safe for us to eat, unlike the poisonous pufferfish.
They are pretty uninteresting fish from an offensive standpoint and are usually calmly swim near the surface of the ocean in schools or solo.
A sunfish can often be spotted by their large dorsal fins that stick out of the water, often being confused with Orca, Dolphins, and other marine animals.
Only to be found that instead of an Orca, it’s in fact a sunfish, catching some rays.
Are Sunfish Friendly?
Yes, Ocean Sunfish are naturally curious and friendly, and they will often swim right up to divers and snorkelers who spot them out in the ocean.
They are social fish that get along just fine with others when kept in aquariums.
In fact, an Ocean Sunfish that was brought to the Two Oceans Aquarium at the end of 2017 was comfortably eating from the hands of scuba divers by the end of the day.
Ocean Sunfish can become so infested with parasites that they will even invite other fish, sometimes birds to come and rid them of parasites.
These surprisingly social and friendly fish are curious with divers, and completely harmless to us humans.
Do Sunfish Have Teeth?
Sunfish do have teeth, but they are not located at the front of the mouth like you would expect and instead are located further back in the throat.
The teeth of Sunfish are fused together to resemble a sort of beak. These teeth are used to crunch up food before passing it back to the stomach.
They have four, fused together teeth that sit in their mouth that is not capable of fully closing.
This means that the Sunfish can have a lot of trouble hunting prey, and instead typically relies on sucking easy to catch jellyfish into their mouth for a quick meal.
Are sunfish dangerous? Nope, they’re actually friendly. These gigantic fish have no means of hurting and are not aggressive or a threat.
Sunfish are calm fish that typically swim near the surface of the ocean. They only dive deep into the mesopelagic zone during the day when their prey takes shelter in the darkness.
These fish don’t dive deep for no reason, which is why they’re often found by people out boating or snorkeling.
As a whole, sunfish are surprisingly friendly and naturally inquisitive. Those that are in captivity get along great with other fish and even allow divers to feed them by hand.
Hopefully, this post has been insightful into the life of the sunfish, and you’ve learned something new today.
Feel free to stick around and learn more about the amazing sunfish and other marine wildlife.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.