Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Seems To Be The Season for Ocean Sunfish, aka Mola mola

A fellow who was in a boat off Greenwich yesterday saw one of Long Island Sound's rarest sights: an ocean sunfish. I had blogged about them several years ago and so searched back, turning up these posts:

November 2, 2006: Ocean Sunfish: A Really Big Fish in Larchmont?

November 3, 2006: Ocean Sunfish: Among the Rarest of the Rarities

November 7, 2006: Ocean Sunfish: Not Quite Unheard of in Long Island Sound

October 12, 2009: Sailor Sees a Really Big Fish in the Sound

Note the dates. Autumn is obviously when this large and unusual fish visits the Sound. All the sightings were in the western end as well.

Here's what Kit Kittle, who was sailing yesterday off Greenwich, wrote to me:

About a half mile south of Great Captain Island near Greenwich in 50 feet of water at 4:30 today, I could see a big fin sticking up in the air about half the time between the growing white caps.  I went towards it and followed it for a half hour.  The fin was long - about 18 inches - and was just sticking up gently waving around as if whoever owned it was not swimming very hard at all. 

I thought it was the flipper of a seal, or perhaps the tail of a whale, but I could not be certain.  But it did not take a breath.  It was not afraid of me or my boat that was splashing loudly against the oncoming waves ten feet from it.  I could see it was at least five or six feet long and pretty rectangular and the fins were coming sideways off its back end. 

I have since read enough on that google search to be sure that this was a sunfish or mola mola.  It was swimming towards Long Island.  I have seen these unusual fish twice before at much greater distances, but I had a sense that this fish was looking at me as I was at him.  It was a life affirming experience to see this mola mola swimming gently in the choppy Sound.

Please do post if anybody else sees this visitor.  

9:50 a.m. update: Save the Sound has a good shot of an ocean sunfish in Long Island Sound on its FAcebook page, here.


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