Whale watching passengers aboard Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari get "mugged" by the world's heaviest bony fish, a Mola mola (or Ocean Sunfish), off the coast of Dana Point, CA. Lucky for us, they are mellow fish that feed primarily on jellyfish and are not dangerous to people. In fact, they have more to fear from us. Mola mola can get caught in gill nets or suffocate on plastic bags that resemble their food of choice.
Sunfish are usually shy and will flee from an approaching boat. But this large individual swam up and down the length of our catamaran and paused to check us out in our Eye to Eye Underwater Viewing Pods. Now, who is watching who?
Mola mola can reach up to 10 feet wide and weigh nearly 5,000 pounds! With their large, almost flat bodies, big eyes, and virtually no tail fin they look like visitors from another planet. Mola mola can become infested with skin parasites and our whale watchers often see them jumping several feet in the air in an attempt to remove the parasites. We also encounter them lounging near the surface and soaking up the warmth from the sun. And this year we've seen them in record numbers.
Images courtesy of Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari.