Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Angler’s encounter with giant Mola mola is a joyride he’ll never forget

Responding to bet, he makes like a cowboy and rides bizarre-looking fish

mola

Video screen grab

Mola molas are fun to watch, mostly because of their docile nature, their incredible size (length to 11 feet, weight to 5,000 pounds), and the bizarre circular shape of their bodies.

But as far as we know, only one person has jumped overboard to mount and ride one.

That cowboy—make that circus clown; this is not smart or responsible–—is an angler named Cliff, who apparently was responding to a $20 bet. (The first video is a shortened version, showing a closeup of the action. The full-length version, which reveals how long Cliff stayed on the sunfish, is posted below.)

Remarkably, Cliff succeeded in riding the Mola mola for about 2 minutes, somewhere in Mexico, presumably off Baja California.

“They started as strangers but ended up as good friends,” reads the description of a video uploaded Tuesday. “The Mola mola was not harmed although Cliff had some barnacle burn—ouch!”

In some parts of the world divers ride giant mantas and whale sharks, but that’s increasingly frowned upon as a show of respect for the animals.

For the same reason, people should not ride Mola molas.

There might be another reason, too.

According to National Geographic, Mola molas “can become so infested with parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on the pesky critters.”

Could it be that the Mola mola was tolerating Cliff because he was rubbing parasites off as the pair galloped toward the horizon?

That might explain the barnacle burn.

In any event, this is one of the goofiest encounters we’ve seen in some time.

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