Whale watchers get an eyeful when giant mola mola ‘mugs’ boat

It’s not often that whale watchers receive a visit from such a bizarre-looking sea creature, and it’s safe to assume that passengers who enjoyed a “mugging” by a giant mola mola this week will not soon forget the encounter (see video).

The mola mola, also called ocean sunfish, is the world’s heaviest bony fish, measuring up to 14 feet across and reaching weights of up to 5,000 pounds. The fish are alien-like in appearance, with truncated bodies, and they’re docile–all of this making them strangely lovable.

The footage, somewhat rare because mola molas typically flee from approaching boats, was captured from a submerged viewing pod on a vessel operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari.

“Lucky for us, they are mellow fish that feed primarily on jellyfish and are not dangerous to people,” stated the landing’s Giselle Anderson. “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.”

There have been lots of mola mola sightings off Southern California during the past few months, because of an abundance of sea jellies, but most have been much smaller and a lot shier than the friendly specimen in the video.