The ocean is known for its unusual and strange looking creatures, and the Mola mola is definitely one of the weirdest. This fish has a body as big as a pick up truck, a blob of fish head with a flat body just like a surfboard. The Mola mola looks like a half of a fish as the back fins that they are born with never grow, resulting on a millstone-like fish. What you see in a Mola mola is an enormous spherical head with a sudden sprout of large tail at what should be the middle of the body. The size of Mola mola makes it as the largest and biggest bony fish in the world. It’s size is only beaten by sharks and oceanic manta rays, but then again, they are cartilaginous fishes. The bizarreness of Mola mola often appears on many divers’ bucket list in Bali, one of the island where the Sunfish live and thrives.
The Sunfish of Tropical Water
The Mola mola loves temperate and tropical waters. They are commonly found in Bali, Pacific Ocean, the British Isles, New Zealand, and sometimes in Africa. In Bali, Mola mola are often found in Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Penida, Ceningan, and around Lombok. The name Sunfish came after their habit. On times when they come to the shallow water to have their bodies cleaned, they often spend an ample amount of time laying flat on one side of their body, and literally have a lovely sunbathing session. Also, people often mistook the Mola mola as sharks as their big dorsal fins emerge to the water surface.
Life of Mola Mola Bali
Research said that the Mola mola loves to sunbathe to raise up their body temperature after spending most of the year living in the colder, deeper sea. In Bali, Mola mola usually come up to the shallower water during July to November to get their yearly care routine. Imagine Mola molas skin as a large platter of parasites. Their skin can get heavily infested with more than 40 species of parasites. Some even buried their head on Mola’s skin and let trails of its eggs dangling. Not the pretties thing to see, indeed. Thankfully, the reef fishes are more than happy to feast on the parasites. And when there’s high demand on the cleaning stations, each Mola Mola will wait in line until it’s their turn to get tended by the reef fishes. For serious (and large) parasites that the fishes cannot remove, the Mola Mola will invite seagulls and other seabirds to rip the parasites off their skin during their sunbathing time.
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On the rest of the year, the Mola mola Bali loves to hangout at 40 to 200 meter depth, where their favourite food—the jellyfishes lives. Mola mola has small gaping mouth that’s unable to close due to their parrot beak-like teeth. It’s not entirely pretty (in fact, they look like constantly confused), but it’s good for munching all the jellies.