Divers encounter a pair of giant sunfish off the coast of Sydney’s northern beaches

Huge and rarely seen sunfish have been spotted by divers off the coast of Sydney in a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity

  • Two sunfish are seen swimming off the coast of Long Reef Beach, Sydney
  • Divers Justin Ewan and Joshua Koo filmed the ‘curious’ sunfish while they were swimming
  • The fish with a unique appearance grows up to 4.2 meters in height and can weigh more than 2000 kg
  • It is rare to see sunfish near the shore because they prefer deep tropical waters

Two divers experienced a once in a lifetime moment after spotting a pair of sunfish while diving off the coast of one of Sydney’s popular beaches.

Justin Ewan, and his friend Joshua Coe, were snorkeling on a waterslide off the coast of Long Reef Beach in the northern Sydney beach suburb of Kolaroy on Sunday when he spotted two gigantic figures swimming towards him.

Ewan soon realized that the dark figures were a pair of two “curious” sunfish about 1.8 meters in diameter.

A pair of sunfish is photographed off the coast of Long Reef Beach in Sydney (pictured)

The unique fish swam towards the diver in an extremely rare encounter (pictured)

Two sunfish were spotted in the waters off the coast of Long Reef Beach, in the suburb of Kolaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches. Stunning shots of the unique confrontation captured with a GoPro (pictured)

“It was my turn to dive and I dived to a depth of about 10 meters and looked ahead and noticed two massive figures coming towards me,” Ewan told 9News.

I really couldn’t believe, until they got so close to me, that they were a huge sunfish, just a pair of them.

They actually swam to me so I guess they were more curious than I was.

Ewan explained that sightings were very rare because the sunfish are usually spotted in warm waters far from shore.

The two divers captured the unique encounter on GoPro and shared the amazing shots on Instagram.

“It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Ewan.

Once they were up, I relaxed and snorkeled very slowly and calmly and ended up getting the chance to get close enough to photograph and watch them swim away.

‘It was amazing. Josh jumped after me and got a chance, too. We were really grateful for that experience.

Mr. Ewan said he loves to dive because he never knows what he will face next.

Joshua Ko (pictured) was able to swim with the sunfish and was grateful for the experience

Justin Ewan explained that sightings were extremely rare as the sunfish is usually spotted in warm, offshore waters rather than in the 10-20m deep water near the coast. Ewan (left) and Joshua Coe (right) said they were grateful to meet and felt as if it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

A rare sunfish is seen in the waters off Long Reef Beach in Sydney's northern beaches (pictured)

A rare sunfish is seen in the waters off Long Reef Beach in Sydney’s northern beaches (pictured)

The sunfish, also called the mola mola, is the world’s heaviest bony fish.

They can be up to 3.1 meters long, 4.2 meters high and weigh more than 2,000 kilograms, and are considered vulnerable in the wild which makes for an even more fascinating find.

They are found in tropical waters around the world and are often confused with sharks because of their fins.

The ocean sunfish is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Their numbers are dwindling because they are stuck in nets and can suffocate in the plastic that finds its way into the sea.

It is also considered a delicacy in countries such as Japan and Taiwan.

What is an ocean fish or “mola mola”?

The ocean sunfish, or mola mola, is the heaviest bony fish, with large specimens reaching 4.2 m vertically and 3.1 m horizontally and weighing more than 2,000 kg. Sharks and rays can be heavier, but they are cartilaginous fish.

The sunfish develops its truncated, bullet-like shape because the hind fin it was born with simply never grows. Instead, it flexes on itself as the massive creature matures, creating a round rudder called a clavus.

The word mola in Latin means “millstone” and describes the somewhat circular shape of the ocean fish. It is silver in color and has a rough leather feel.

Mola is found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They are often seen basking in the sun near the surface and are often confused with sharks when their massive dorsal fins appear above the water.

Their teeth are fused into a beak-like structure, and they cannot completely close their relatively small mouths.

Source: National Geographic


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