Marianne Nyegaard, Andrew Stewart and Te Papa intern Etsuro Suwai measuring a specimen of the new sunfish. (Photo Salme Kortet, Te Papa).

Sunfishes (family Molidae) are large, distinctive, oceanic fishes found worldwide. Scientists generally agree there are two species of sunfish – the oceanic sunfish (Mola mola) and the bump-headed or short sunfish (Mola ramsayi). However, recent DNA analyses of sunfish samples collected and sequenced overseas has indicated the presence of aRead more

Readers may remember that as part of sunfish science extravaganza, a group of Khandallah School students won our competition to name the fish. Their winning name was Sunny Bill, and this morning they visited our natural history collection as part of their prize. The 28 students from room 5 arrivedRead more

Max's sunfish drawing. Photographer: Becs Thomas © Tai Tamariki

Our sunfish science extravaganza was a huge hit with adult science enthusiasts from across New Zealand – and worldwide! But could the same setup work for very young children? Mel Dash, one of Te Papa’s audience engagement team, had the inspired idea of inviting the 3 and 4 year oldsRead more

On Monday morning 30 students from Brooklyn school huddled around a table in Te Papa’s fish lab. They were here to get a rare glimpse of a very rare fish – a sharp-tail sunfish. While the fish was still hidden under a wet sheet that was part of the defrostingRead more

That’s not a joke, honest (although if you have a punchline for it, leave us a comment!). Judy Hinchliffe, a forensic odontologist (dentist) for the Wellington region, visited Te Papa’s lab today to take a closer look at the sunfish’s teeth. It’s a little unusual for Judy as her dayRead more

Andrew Stewart weighing the sunfish specimen. Photographer: Michael Hall © Te Papa

You’re probably aware by now, Te Papa’s scientists are conducting research on our sunfish specimen on 13 August 2013. We’ll be live-blogging and sharing the scientists’ findings through Facebook and Twitter. It’s a fantastic opportunity to sit in as scientists do their research on these rarely seen animals. What willRead more

Weight a sunfish. Photographer: Michael Hall © Te Papa

There’s a fishy theme to the blog this week, with excitement building about the sunfish science that Te Papa’s scientists are conducting next week. It’s a good time to ask: Why do we care about sunfishes? Why does Te Papa keep specimens at all? As a non-ichthyologist (fish scientist) IRead more

Taking a closer look at the sunfish. Photographer: Michael Hall © Te Papa

Te Papa recently received a rare sunfish specimen from Auckland Museum, so we decided to find out more about these mysterious ocean-dwelling animals. Here are our fascinating facts: 1.Sunfish don’t have a tail! Some people call them a ‘gigantic swimming head’ (which seems a bit rude). Instead of a tailRead more

Andrew Stewart, Te Papa's lead scientist on the sunfish project. Photographer: Michael Hall © Te Papa

What’s fishy, heavy, rarely seen and now at Te Papa? A sunfish – the world’s heaviest bony fish! This is a common sunfish, also called an ocean sunfish. Our specimen is the rarer sharp-tailed sunfish. When Andrew Stewart got an email with some very exciting pictures from Tom Trnski atRead more