Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 5, pp 1173–1176 | Cite as

Observations on a school of ocean sunfish and evidence for a symbiotic cleaning association with albatrosses

  • Takuzo AbeEmail author
  • Keiko Sekiguchi
  • Hiroji Onishi
  • Kota Muramatsu
  • Takehiko Kamito
Short Communication


We observed a school of ocean sunfish Mola mola at the surface in the western North Pacific Ocean (40°46.8′N, 165°01.7′E) for about 90 min in July 2010. The school consisted of juvenile fish, approximately 40 cm in total length, which kept the same tight formation throughout the observation. Most fish were heavily infested around the base of their dorsal fins with an ecto-parasite Pennella sp. The fish school appeared to actively follow Laysan albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis that were sitting on the water nearby, and one of the birds was photographed as it picked a Pennella sp. from one of the fish and ate it. We hypothesize that this symbiotic cleaning behavior by the albatrosses may be a common feature of the biology of the ocean sunfish.


Western North Pacific Ocean Cleaning Behavior Ocean Sunfish Laysan Albatross Fish Body Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to acknowledge the Captain, crew and all students on board the T/S Oshoro Maru in the summer 2010 cruise, for their endless support and hard work. Prof. Naito, Azabu University, Prof. Nagasawa, Hiroshima University, and emeritus Prof. Ogi, Hokkaido University, provided us with important literature and advice. Drs. Gregor M. Cailliet, Robert L. Pitman, William Walker and Patricia Whitelock made useful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takuzo Abe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Keiko Sekiguchi
    • 2
  • Hiroji Onishi
    • 4
  • Kota Muramatsu
    • 1
  • Takehiko Kamito
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Fisheries ScienceHokkaido UniversityHakodate CityJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Arts and ScienceInternational Christian UniversityMitaka CityJapan
  3. 3.Department of Life ScienceInternational Christian UniversityMitaka CityJapan
  4. 4.Faculty of Fisheries ScienceHokkaido UniversityHakodate CityJapan

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