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Updated: September 7, 2013 12:20 IST

Rare visitor from sea draws curious crowds

Ignatius Pereira
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An Ocean sunfish caught at Shakthikulangara on Friday. Photo: C. Suresh Kumar
The Hindu
An Ocean sunfish caught at Shakthikulangara on Friday. Photo: C. Suresh Kumar

An ocean sunfish was netted at Shakthikulangara on Friday

The sight of a rare and bizarre looking fish at the Shakthikulangara fishing harbour here on Friday morning drew curious crowds. Even the veteran fishermen at the harbour had never seen such a fish before. Since no one knew whether it is edible, the owner of the boat which netted the fish discarded it on the wharf.

It was later picked up by a fish vendor who tried selling it, but no one came forward to buy the fish which they had never seen before. Finally out of curiosity a boat owner, Jose Pius, bought the fish from the vendor for Rs.100. A photograph of the fish was mailed to his friend at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

Soon came the reply that it was an ocean sunfish also called Mola mola, which is found in the tropical and temperate deep sea. An adult Mola mola can weigh up to 1,000 kg but the fish that was caught here was about 15 kg. It is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. Large specimens can reach 14 feet in length.

They swim by waggling their dorsal fin. There are reports that these fish get often entangled in drift nets and gillnets. That is how the fish got caught in the Shakthikulangara boat. Their staple food is jellyfish. The ocean sunfish has few predators but are hunted by sea lions. They are a delicacy in Japan and Korea.

Mr. Pius said he bought the fish just to enable people in his neighbourhood at Shakthikulangara see the marine fish they had never seen before. He has preserved the fish in an ice box and proudly displays it to visitors who arrive at his house.

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