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Discussion Starter #1
Here's a sight I hope we don't see again soon...its a mola mola, or ocean sunfish. They are found worldwide in tropical and semi-tropical areas and sometimes arrive off Oregon during severe el Nino years...apparently they ride warm ocean currents northward. Their natural diet is 100% jellyfish, they are all head with developed pectoral fins, only, and a stubby tail. They reach weights of up to 5000 lbs. but the ones we saw were 25 to 1000 with a couple monsters that had to be over 1000 lbs :shocked: .

This pic was taken in August in the mid-1990s at the mouth of the Umpqua...that's the south jetty in background. The tide was incoming that day and there was a steady parade of these weird fish, most awash at or near the surface, apparently immobilized by the cooler water...pectoral fins flapping listlessly. Seagulls landed on some and were pecking out their eyes...seals were having fun with others biting off their fins...one was so big that when running out to the jetty tip I planed the boat right over it and a foot or more of the fish stuck out past either side of my 7' wide boat. This one weighed a good 40-50 pounds. They are reportedly inedible, being composed of mostly head & gristle. We released this mola mola.

I think they are rare during non-el Nino years when the ocean is "good" for salmon...and when they are around, the ocean isn't so good for salmon.



[ 07-22-2003, 09:27 PM: Message edited by: GutshotApe ]
 

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Never seen these before....freaky looking things.

Thanks for posting the information about them! :cheers:
 

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GSA,

I think they are rare during non-el Nino years when the ocean is "good" for salmon...and when they are around, the ocean isn't so good for salmon.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">Talking to a couple buddies today who were fishing the ocean off Garibaldi this weekend. They did good on the silvers and...saw a big Sunfish.

Brion
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can't say I've ever read any scientific paper on the occurrence of ocean sunfish in Oregon vs. el Nino years...but I think there is a positive relationship. That year (mid-1990s) was a "bad" el Nino and the ocean sunfish were so thick we literally could have netted up enough to fill the boat...if we'd had a larger, stronger dipnet, that is...the little one in the pic just about broke the net we had.
 

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Seen one clear up by Neah Bay last year while halibut fishing. Pretty weird looking and huge!!!
 

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There was a good article in "Sea" magazine a while back about those freaky fish. There's been some concern, especially in CA, about increased sunfish sightings lately. There's been a few collisions resulting in heavily damaged boats as well.
The article mentioned a big bulk freighter that hit a huge mola mola off Australia. The fish stuck to the ship's bulbous bow and slowed it down from something like 16 knots down to 11 before the could limp in to port and figure out what happened. :shocked:
Tried to find the article, but no luck. :depressed:
 

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I was fishing off the jettty in Nehalem bay about ten years back and noticed aboat had caught something very large. Got the word later that the fishermen had got their lines ensnarled in the large floating doormat(the fish often lays flat on the surface "sunning" themselves).They towed it into Jetty fishery where I believe it was released.
 

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They had one of those in the Moneterey Bay Aquarium for a while. It came in at about 100lbs, but grew quickly. It got so big that there was concern the crane would not be able to lift it out of the tank for release.

I am curious how that thing avoids predators?
 

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Fishing out of Garibaldi last weekend (7/19) I spotted what I thought at first was a odd shaped piece of driftwood. Our path led us right by it, and upon closer inspection, we couldn't figure out what the heck we were looking at. :shrug: We did a couple of circles to get a couple more looks (once interupted by a pesky native silver :grin: ) and still couldn't figure out what it was. This one was way bigger than the one in the first picture. In fact, it was huge! Probably four to five feet long and at least three feet wide. It sure didn't look alive and seemed to already have had it's eye's pecked out.

I'm glad this topic came up. It solved what was a mystery to me. Thanks!

[ 07-23-2003, 07:16 AM: Message edited by: blackdog ]
 

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Back in the sixties when I was a kid we fished out of Newport just about every weekend of every summer for one thing or another. Salmon, (rock pile bottom fish no limits) we even got a few tuna now and then, anyway we had an 18 foot Sea Dory and we saw Sunfish that seemed as big as our boat several time, when we would get close to them you could see them looking right at you with their great big eye, kind of rolling it around looking at you. We always made sure that we never got to close to them because they were big enough to damage our boat.

I didn't know they were called Mola Mola, we always just called them Sunfish. W.A.

[ 07-23-2003, 08:00 AM: Message edited by: Wright Angle ]
 

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A friend saw one in the jaws at Tillamook Bay last weekend. He said it looked like it weighed a few hundred pounds.
 

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According to Ken Schultz's magnificent Fishing Encyclopedia, ocean sunfish/mola mola feed on "zooplankton, eel larvae, small deep-see fish, as well as on jellyfish, crustaceans, mollusks and brittle stars."

Schultz puts the top size at "10 feet long and 11 feet high (including dorsal and anal fins) and weigh[ing] up to 4,400 pounds."

Their range in the eastern Pacific is from British Columbia to Peru and Chile, and in the Atlantic they can be found from Scandinavia to South Africa in the east, and Canada to northern South America in the west, according to Schultz.
 

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Last year a large group of my friends and family fished the Winter Harbour area at the Northern tip of Vancouver Is. While we were out in the big water off the west side about a mile or two out halibut fishish we ran across several of these fish at the top of the water. When we would turn around quick to get a good look they would dive quickly and be out of sight. I would estimate them to have been a good 8-10 ft. in diameter. As far as their diet goes, there were so many jellyfish in the water they would get caught on your line and stuck at the tip of your pole. The halibut fishing was great last year up there but the salmon was spuratic. All this was in July of 2002.
 

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They're a really cool fish. I have unfortunately seen them with a bunch of hooks in them.
Something has to eat those darn jellyfish.
 

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During the last halibut opener in June I was fishing aboard the Pilar and we hit one of these suckers on the way in. It was a bit scary when it happened as it brought the boat to stop. Looked over the back and wasn't really sure what I was looking at. After talking about it for a bit we decided it must be a sun fish. That thing was huge and ugly.
 

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I was surf fishing with a guy at Whiskey Run beach in probably 1983 (?) and he caught one. It was flopping around on the surface, so he cast ofer it, snagged it, and reeled it in. He thought it was a crippled tuna or something--he saw the long fin sticking up. It was maybe 2 feet from tip to tip on its fins and a little less from nose to tail, so to speak.

We fileted it and got lots of meat from it. My mom cooked it up. It was by far the toughest fish I have ever stuck a fork in. It was literally about as tough as the sole of a shoe. And it tasted terrible. We used the rest to fertilize the corn and zuchinni in the garden. I don't recall how is worked as fertilizer.
 

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Ocean sunfish, aka Mola Mola come up this way every year, they just don't get this close to shore unless the surface temps warm up, but they are always out there with the tuna. If you see them laying on their side on the surface, THEY AREN'T DEAD!



Check out this website for tons more info

Ocean Sunfish

Everyone saw the pleathora of BY-THE-WIND SAILOR (Velella velella)jellyfish during May and June, probably has something to do with the Ocean Sunfish showing up.
KB
 
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