Hello everyone, I just wanted to share a really great sighting we had this morning while offshore at South Wolf….an ocean sunfish or Mola mola!
We had spent time with a minke whale and then a fin whale but with too much traffic around the finner we decided to head offshore and see what else we could find. We did find another fin whale but it was being very hard to watch and then we could see a fin out of the water. The dorsal fin of an ocean sunfish could be mistaken for a shark but the side-to-side movement of the fin left us with no doubts…it was a Mola mola!
The Mola mola is the heaviest known teleost (bony fish) with a weight of >1000 kg! The are active swimmers and not planktonic swimmers at the mercy of the oceans currents like once believed. They move by simultaneously stroking their dorsal and anal fins (they lack a caudal fin altogether) and they make substantial vertical movements in the water column. They are neutrally buoyant without a swim bladder due to a low-density subcutaneous gelatinous tissue. This tissue does not compress with depth and has been reported in some deep sea fishes. Mola mola live on a diet of nutrient-poor jellyfish so they must consume an immense amount to maintain their size.
Here are some photos I took of the ocean sunfish today and Nick also tried to get some underwater footage so I will share that as soon as I can.
Thanks for checking in and I will post the video when I can,