The famous Ocean Sunfish, also known as the Mola Mola, is the heaviest bony fish in the world. They’re also one of the more quirky looking pelagics to encounter in Bali waters. Visually, the Mola Mola resembles a fish head that has conjoined tails sprouting from a lateral flattened body.
Catching the sun
As their name suggests, the Sunfish occasionally swims near the surface to bask in the sun. They turn their flat bodies sideways to maximize the surface area to catch the sun. Once they’re thermally charge, they once again dive into the depths of the ocean where they spend most of their time.
On average, the Mola Mola can grow up to 3 meters long and weigh as much as 1000 kilograms. The biggest Mola Mola have weighed as much as 2300 kilograms, which is well above the average weight of a standard car!
The name “Mola” is derived from the Latin word meaning millstone, which resembles the flat elongated shape of their body. However they have nicknames from other languages as well. In German the Sunfish is nicknamed Schwimmender Kopf, which translates to “swimming head”. In Polish the fish earned the name Samogłów, meaning “head alone” because it does not have a true tail.
The Mola Mola are excellent swimmers and their bony structures allow them to resist the pressure of the deeper parts of the ocean. They’ve been recorded to dive as deep as 2600 feet, or 800 meters!
In some parts of Asia such as Japan and Taiwan, the Mola Mola are considered to be a delicacy where restaurants serve all parts of the fish, from the fins to the meat and even internal organs. Certain parts of the fish have also been used as ingredients in medicine.
In times of distress or danger and to avoid predators, the Mola Mola is capable of propelling itself quickly away. They can propel their bodies so quickly, that they leap out of the water!
The Mola Mola can be seen in the waters at Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida at depths around 40 meters. They’re most frequently spotted when the surface water temperatures drop, which is around June and early November. Our divers report that the most consistent sightings happen around July and August.
If you want the chance to witness the Mola Mola in action, we suggest you schedule a dive in the Mola Mola Season with our expert dive guides at Blue Season Bali. You can also reserve our dedicated Mola Mola Dive where you will be guided by our experienced diving team specifically to spot the Mola Mola Sunfish!