Holy Mola, Batman!!

Robin, the ultimate super hero sidekick, could turn anything into his signature phrase.  I wonder what he would have blurted out if ever face to face with this gentle giant of the worlds ocean?

Mola mola aka Ocean sunfish

Ocean sunfish, (Mola mola) are huge and flat.  These silvery-gray fish have tiny mouths and big eyes that vanish into an even bigger body with a truncated tail. Topping out around 5,000 pounds, molas are the world’s heaviest bony fish!

With their giant bodies, molas were clearly not built for life in the fast lane, but they hold their own against faster and flashier fishes and are able to live in almost all of the world’s oceans, including right here in our own Santa Barbara Channel.

Because molas spend so much time drifting near the ocean surface, they are vulnerable to fishing boats that use drift gillnets. In California, nearly 30 percent of the catch in a swordfish boat can be molas caught by mistake—rivaling or exceeding the number of swordfish caught.   

Another hazard to molas are discarded plastic bags. When these wind up in the ocean, they float at the surface and look a lot like a jelly—a mola’s favorite meal. If the mola doesn’t choke as it sucks the bag in, the plastic can clog the fish’s stomach, slowly starving the animal.  Helping molas is one more reason to carry your own shopping bags with you to the store—and to make sure any plastic bags you use go into the trash can or are recycled at your local store or curbside bin.

Read more about these remarkable creatures at the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.