In a recent dive trip north of Port Hardy, two elusive Mola mola, commonly known as Ocean Sunfish, were sighted and expertly documented by Timothy Manuelides. The remarkable encounter took place in Browning Pass, near God’s Pocket Resort, organized by MERS team member Jackie, who shared the exhilarating experience on social media.
Jackie expressed her excitement, acknowledging the emotional intensity of the encounter and the significance of Timothy’s documentation. Dr. Marianne Nyegaard, a marine biologist, identified the sunfish as most likely juvenile Mola mola, distinguishing them from the Mola tecta, or Hoodwinker Sunfish, also found in these waters.
Dr. Nyegaard commented on the video, noting, “They look to me like very young Mola mola – the belly curve still has that angular look to them, which is the last remnant of the babyness.” The footage reveals one of the Mola mola displaying an injury on its tail, with both juveniles measuring approximately 60 cm across.
The accompanying video offers a unique glimpse into the underwater world and showcases the surprising speed of Mola mola. Contrary to common misconceptions, these sunfish are agile swimmers, not slow-moving creatures. The video also features Widow Rockfish and Yellowtail Rockfish, providing a comprehensive view of the marine environment.
This year has proven extraordinary for Mola sightings in the Browning Pass area, with approximately seven reported encounters by scuba divers. MERS aims to report on additional sightings once more information becomes available, exploring the possibility of repeated encounters with the same individuals.
The MERS team extends gratitude to all contributors who have shared photos and information about Mola sightings. They encourage others to join the effort by reporting their own sightings, complete with photos and videos, through the MERS website at www.mersociety.org/mola. The ongoing collaboration promises to deepen our understanding of these elusive marine creatures and contribute valuable data to the Mola study.