Biologists and anglers are abuzz over the sighting of a mola mola, also known as the ocean sunfish, in South Puget Sound.
Described as the world’s heaviest bony fish, the mola mola is native to tropical and temperate waters — and is uncommon in Puget Sound.
This week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife shared a 48-second video from fisherman Jim Byrne, who had been fishing for cutthroat trout near Harstine Island in Mason County when he spotted the sunfish.
Byrne, who was fishing with fellow Olympia resident Gabriel Mas, initially thought the sunfish was a shark.
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“I knew it was something significant,” Byrne told The Olympian, adding that he spends a lot of time fishing in the sound. “I’d never seen anything like that.”
The department reports that ocean sunfish can weigh 545 pounds to 2,205 pounds and measure 6 feet or longer. They are described as “major jellyfish eaters most often associated with the southern warm water mass on the open ocean.”
Puget Sound has seen a significant increase in jellyfish in the past 40 years, according to a 2015 study by the Marine Ecology Progress Series. The study suggests the higher jellyfish concentration is linked to human activity such as development, pollution and fishing.
Check out the video of the sunfish here: