When Rich German was paddling out at sea along the coast of Laguna Beach, he didn't expect to stumble across a "Mola mola," an ocean sunfish.
On Dec. 2, German, founder of Project O and host of Our Epic Ocean podcast, was paddling out with a friend like he regularly does and was at least 200 yards offshore, just south of Main Beach, when he saw the massive fish.
“It was cool, because I've seen over a dozen sunfish over the years, so I knew what it was,” said German.
German said he and his friend Matt Wheaton hung around the Mola mola for about 30 minutes as it gently floated along the surface of the water.
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“We just hung out with it until it finally dropped down into the water,” he said.
German said the fish looked really big and estimates it could've been 9 to 10 feet long.
According to National Geographic, the ocean sunfish is the world's largest bony fish and can weigh up to 2.5 tons. “They develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows. Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus.”
“This story has gone viral and it's cool that people love the ocean, they love the life that lives in the ocean, especially unique things like this,” he said. “I think it's great exposure from the standpoint that the more people love the ocean and the life, the more they want to protect it. We do so much harm to the ocean, so it's good to see a positive story and interest in this crazy-looking fish.”
Mola mola are harmless to people and can be very curious as they often approach divers. These fish can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.