A group of scuba divers were exploring a section of Barkley Sound with Rendezvous Dive Adventures last week when they had a rare encounter with one of the strangest fish seen off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Peter Mieras, dive captain and owner of Rendezvous Dive Adventures, had a group of experienced divers in the water when he spotted the telltale dorsal fin of a mola mola.
A mola mola is also known as an ocean sunfish, and is an odd-looking bony fish weighing between 250 and 1,000 kilograms. The mola mola looks like it is swimming on its side.
Mola mola aren’t usual visitors to the waters off Vancouver Island. They are usually found in tropical or more temperate waters, and they feed off jellyfish.
Mieras said he usually sees them in Barkley Sound “only in summers when El Nino is on.
“I have seen three-foot to six-foot ones, which is usually the bigger side of the scale.”
The dive group Mieras was leading included experienced divers. They were getting ready to enter the water when they spotted the mola mola’s dorsal fin.
“The fish actually turned towards them and came to check them out,” Mieras said. The divers remained a respectful distance from the giant sunfish as Mieras instructed them to stay calm and give it lots of room.
Lee Critchley filmed the encounter underwater, while Mieras had a camera on his boat on the ocean’s surface. Mieras is known for his marine videos, several of which have been featured in film festivals and one that he created to accompany ‘Become Ocean,’ a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical score.
To watch some of Mieras’ videos, check out his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/rendezvousdiving or www.subvisionproductions.com.