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Catch up National Museum of Scotland

Revealing the Secrets of the Rosemarkie Sunfish

13 May 2021

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An Ocean sunfish and a scuba diver

© © Mike Johnson / Earthwindow.Com

An Ocean sunfish and a scuba diver

© © Mike Johnson / Earthwindow.Com

Discover the facts about a large ocean sunfish that stranded off Scotland’s coast in 2020 and hear what we can learn from studying this strange fish. 


Donate now to make more events like this possible, protect our collections and share their stories with the world.

Discovery at Rosemarkie

On 23 September 2020, a large ocean sunfish Mola Mola was stranded at Rosemarkie on the Black Isle peninsula north of Inverness. Typically found in warm, temperate waters, this surprise guest caused a stir in the local community and the sunfish was later collected for National Museums Scotland by the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme. Once it had arrived with us, the team set about dissecting the specimen to better understand how and why it had travelled so far from home.  

An ocean sunfish sunbathing at the surface of the water © Mike Johnson /

Ocean sunfish model at the National Museum of Scotland.

What we found out

Join us for a panel discussion and Q&A with Principal Curator Andrew Kitchener and specimen preparator Georg Hantke, plus videos and images of the dissection, to learn more about the anatomy, behaviour and diet of the sunfish and hear how the dissection work helped tell the story of theMola mola’s unusual journey to Scotland. 

Please note: this event contains some graphic images and brief footage of a sunfish dissection. Viewer discretion is advised.     

Host Lizzie Daly

This event is hosted by wildlife biologist and broadcaster Lizzie Daly. Lizzie is a conservationist with a fierce passion to care for our oceans and protect our wild spaces. She is an ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, the Jane Goodall Institute UK and the first ever female patron of ORCA.

Lizzie Daly © Viv Cumming

Lizzie Daly diving with a giant barrel jellyfish in Cornwall © Dan Abbott

Our vertebrate collection

At National Museums Scotland we have more than 200,000 vertebrate specimens from around the world. This library of life includes skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, wet specimens, tissue samples, fossils and archaeological remains. Our collection is continually evolving and growing to reflect today’s environment and helps researchers look back into the past to see how species and habitats have changed over time, making the museum’s Natural Sciences collections a vital tool in biodiversity conservation. Find out more about our Natural Sciences collection here   

Part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020/21

Further information

  • This event is free, however donations are greatly appreciated. Your support will help protect our remarkable collections and share their stories with the world through events like this. 
  • A recording of the event will be available in June if you’re not able to join us on the night. 
  • The event will be hosted on Zoom.  To book, please register your name and e-mail address via Eventbrite in the website link.  
  • Please note that you need only book one ticket (either an attendee ticket or an attendee with donation ticket) per household/e-mail address.  Prior to the event you will receive a confirmation e-mail with instructions on how to join. 
  • Following the talk there will be a Q & A session. 
  • This event includes live captioning delivered by Stagetext.  
  • Please note this event will be recorded but your cameras and microphones will automatically be switched off. 
  • Visit our Natural World galleries at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh when the museum reopens on 26 April.

If you have any queries about this event please contact

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Header image: An ocean sunfish and a scuba diver © Mike Johnson /

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