Studying the Bizarre Ocean Sunfish

Ocean Sunfish, photo/Wikimedia

Cape Cod Online: The gooey mass of white flesh bobbing in the shallow surf was tough post-breakfast viewing.

Dressed in bright orange slickers, Carol “Krill” Carson moved in with a white-handled knife, deftly slicing and dicing through flesh and bone, exposing intestines and searching for sex organs.

“They smell when they’re this bad,” Carson said as she measured the thickness of the stranded animal’s flesh on Breakwater Beach in Brewster recently.

The coffee-table-size, flat fish was an ocean sunfish, or mola mola, a name derived from the Latin for “millstone” and aptly descriptive of its shape and weight. The mola mola is a frequent visitor to Cape waters and the season is under way for finding them stranded on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, Carson said. Although there are three types of ocean sunfish, the mola mola is the one most likely to be sighted off the Cape’s shores.

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