Among the many strange looking creatures that inhabit the waters of California, this giant Mola mola definitely takes the cake. These giant white sun fish have been seen in unusually high numbers this summer but what is most stunning is the quality of this photograph.
Mola molas are generally very cautious around humans and other unfamiliar species, so photographer Daniel Botelho considers himself very lucky to have snapped a photo of one of these gentle giants.
“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 explained. “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 took the photo over two years ago during an whale-watching trip and uncovered it while preparing for another excursion. The moment he posted the picture on his Facebook page, the Mola mola went viral.
“It got 1,000 ‘likes’ in 36 hours,” said Botelho, an award-winning photojournalist who specializes in underwater photography. Through Monday the number of likes and shares beneath had grown to 1,375 and 1,237, respectively.
The photograph is nothing short of remarkable, just like the Mola mola itself. These giant sun fish can grow up to 14 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They’re found in tropical and temperate oceans but seem very alien-like.
Mola molas are sluggish creatures and feed primarily on jellies but will also eat squid and small fish. No need for deep sea submarines based on this photograph. Maybe James Cameron should look to shallower waters to find inspiration for his next mega-hit!