[Non-ceph] Monster sunfish

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Staff member
Nov 19, 2002
... this monstrosity is coming my way today, and I'm not ready for it ....

Would love to preserve it down, but I simply don't have facilities for it. Anyone any experience making casts of animals? We'll try this first, latex, at HUGE expense, and then fillet it (in the process, do an autopsy; full parasite load examination, see what's in that belly, and look for any other apparent sign of distress/abnormality), then articulate the skeleton (HUGE cost).

It seems like too great an opportunity to pass up.

Anyone want to wing there way to NZ to help out this week?


  • conv_302838.jpg
    69.9 KB · Views: 138
  • conv_302839.jpg
    57.1 KB · Views: 115
  • conv_302840.jpg
    57.9 KB · Views: 130
Sorry, but. . . .

I'm just curious (and ignorant of the subject, I admit), but
what is the significance of a sunfish? I was always under the
impression that these were fairly common beasties, and were
ALWAYS huge. :hmm:

I guess I'm wrong, huh?
I've never done a big cast, but if I were in your shoes I might try this: after you've got a few layers of latex or silicone dry to get the surface detail, start putting down layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy boatbuilding resin (you could try polyester resin for lesser expense) to give the mold a strong mother to hold its shape. I've used plaster mothers on decent-sized bone molds (up to say a meter) but that would be way too heavy on a critter like that. You might (read: make your students) practice the technique on something smaller.

mournblade;83227 said:
I'm just curious (and ignorant of the subject, I admit), but
what is the significance of a sunfish? I was always under the
impression that these were fairly common beasties, and were
ALWAYS huge. :hmm:

I guess I'm wrong, huh?

No, not wrong, but they're certainly not common down this neck of the woods; to us big things like this are the exception. I'm not too sure how we're going to handle this yet, but the fibreglass/latex combination sounds good (thanks Dan).
Another thing I just thought of if you went the fiberglass route, you might consider fiberglassing 2x4s or furring strips into it to add more rigidity: the composite on its own will be pretty stiff, but there will clearly be a lot of bending moment on it.

I was just thinking about some burlap/plaster field casts for real big dino bones I've seen that had 2x4s worked in. These also served as handles or hardpoints for a front-end loader or forklift.

We had a juvenile down here a few years back (they're even rarer down this end of the country). It was in pretty bad shape when it arrived so no chance of getting a cast buit we buried it and now have a skeleton to rearticulate......when we feel brave and are REALLY bored! It's quite a puzzle.

I seem to recall that Mola molas have a huge parasite load... Also they have the cutest larval stage - looks just like a puffer fish (which makes sense since they are related to puffer fish)... wish I had some spare time, I would love to help out!
We had a couple off Dover harbour a couple of months ago. I was surprised to learn that that these things must therefore have a global distribution, within certain parameters of temperature and salinity of course. NZ and the UK are practically opposite sides to each other on the Earths surface, yet we share some of the same fish. Fascinating.

A little too far to come to help out at the weekend though Steve. Sorry.
I second the fiberglass-resin-- I just fixed my rusty car roof with boatbuilding fiberglass, and it was great! Just make sure you work fast if it's a hot day, 'cause it sets up faster than you think it will!

We get sunfish off California, but there aren't many that size around these days. I see a lot in old pictures from the 1920s or so; I think the big ones got fished out in this area in the mid 20th century.
The weight worries me; I have a 3-ton weight restriction on the 2nd-floor carpark into which I'm taking it. The trucking company reckon to ~ 6 tons - I think not - the freezer fellow reckons 2 tons minimum, I reckon closer to 1.2 tons .... but I have no comparative experience. Perhaps we should weigh the 'bits', as I don't have big enough scales to put this puppy on!
Sponsor Banner
please support our sponsor
advertise on TONMO

Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.