Well, if you have never heard of a ‘mola mola’, also known as an ocean sun fish, you are not alone, but these fascinating creatures are the world’s largest bony fish and they are occasionally seen off the coast of Cornwall. They can reach 11 feet in size, weighing in between 250g to a ton, so it would literally be a big surprise to meet one while diving, snorkelling or swimming. Imagine a fish that can weigh more than a car – but don’t worry if you do; they are harmless to people.
They are funny-looking creatures (like a giant swimming head) which it is possible to encounter on a guided open-water swim with companies like Cornish Rock Tors or on a wildlife explorer cruise with businesses like A K Wildlife Cruises.
They have been spotted off Falmouth, Port Gaverne/Port Isaac, Polzeath, St Agnes, Godrevy Point, Pendeen Watch, Penzance and other spots.
You will probably spot the dorsal fin first as it basks in the sun on the surface of the water, but don’t panic, it is not a shark. These fish are known as ‘jellivores’, feeding joyfully on jellyfish (Cornwall often has a glut) and this may be what is attracting them to Cornish waters as they normally like things a little hotter. Sadly, they can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, another reminder to dispose of litter properly.
Living for up to ten years, you won’t find them on the menu in Cornwall’s fish restaurants as they are now considered an endangered species. As the saying goes, (for eating) there are plenty more fish in the sea …