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What is the Mola Mola? Odd Fish Spotted Off California Coast [VIDEO]

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Aug 01, 2012 12:38 AM EDT

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Mola Mola
Daniel Botelho took this photo of a Mola Mola in 2010.(Photo : Daniel Botelho Facebook)

The Mola Mola, a creature known as an ocean sunfish, is making a splash around the internet after  Daniel Botelho, a photographer for National Geographic Magazine, posted a photo of the odd-looking marine animal. California fisherman also spotted numerous Mola Mola in the Santa Monica Bay near California.

The fisherman were on a fishing boat when they spotted several Mola Mola, or ocean sunfish, as they were feeding.

"As we were fishing, we noticed copious amounts of jellyfish in the water," Phil Friedman of Philip Friedman Outdoors told Patch. "That is the favorite food of the ocean sunfish."

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Some may be wondering what exactly is a Mola Mola. The strange looking animal is a large, flat fish with large eyes and a tiny mouth. They are the world's heaviest bony fish as they can weigh up to 5,000 pounds and can grow up to 10-feet long.  They feed on jellyfish, which are not nutritionally rich, so they consume large amounts at a time.

The Mola Mola found in almost all oceans around the world, but they are native to tropical, warm waters, which might explain why they are being noticed in large numbers off the coast of California.

Despite it's massive and intimidating size, the Mola Mola isn't dangerous. In the caption of his photo, Botelho described the fish as gentle and shy.

People are loving the weird looking giant fish as Botelho's Facebook photo has received over 2,000 likes, over 100 comments, and has been shared by almost 1,800 followers.

While Botelho says now is a peak season for the Mola Mola in California, the photo that he posted was taken in 2010 while he was looking for blue whales.

"There were more than five in the same spot, but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast," Botelho told Grind TV. "But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner."

Botelho is an award-winning photojournalist whose favorite subject is underwater life and scenes.




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