From CTY News: Warm temperatures bring bizarre tropical fish to Bay of Fundy
Unusually warm temperatures in the Bay of Fundy are attracting exotic
species that rarely venture so far north -- including a several-hundred
pound flat fish that is often mistaken for a shark and can grow to be
thousands of pounds.
The mola mola, or ocean sunfish, was spotted and recorded earlier this
week by a tour operator who runs whale watching trips out of St.
The fish often swims near the surface of the water, and has a large,
triangular fin that resembles a shark’s. In fact, that’s what Nick
Hawkins thought he was seeing at first. It wasn’t until he got closer
and began recording the creature, that he realized it was something
“We saw a fin come up and when we approached it was a mola mola, which
is a really bizarre looking fish,” he told CTV Atlantic. “This certain
one was actually a small mola mola because they can get very large. I’d
put this one at about three or four hundred pounds.”
Considered the largest bony fish in the world, the mola mola is
typically found in warmer waters, but with temperatures in the Bay of
Fundy becoming more temperate in recent months, unusual species have
begun to appear, said James Upham, a public programming interpreter at
the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.
He said the mola mola is a fascinating fish to see in the wild because
of its flat shape, unique swimming style and its tendency to stay close
to the surface.
“They get the name (mola mola, or sunfish) from hanging around on the
surface of the water during the day, they sort of bask and you can see
them pretty easily,” Upham said.
Hawkins said he was excited for the rare opportunity to see the fish, and quickly tried to capture the moment.
“The mola mola happened to be close to the boat which is hard to do,
often you’ll catch a glimpse of them and then they’re gone but it stayed
up for us and we got the pole into the water and got some really good
footage of it,” he said.
According to National Geographic, ocean sunfish live in tropical and
termperate waters, and can reach up to 14 feet vertically and 10 feet
horizontally. The largest specimens have weighed up to 5,000 pounds.
They feed on jellyfish, small fish and plankton and algae.
“They are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often
approach divers,” said an article on nationalgeographic.com.
“Their population is considered stable, though they frequently get
snagged in drift gill nets and can suffocate on sea trash, like plastic
bags, which resemble jellyfish.”