That’s a Mola mola, a bizarre ocean sunfish that’s becoming a common sight in California waters.
Molas are huge, obviously – its size relative to the human diver isn’t a photographic trick. And they’re weird-looking. The one Botelho shot looks like a moon or a flattened Sprite can. Molas are the heaviest bony fish in the world, weighing an average of 2,200 pounds. Despite their bulk, they’re rather peckish; their mouths are relatively tiny, and they live primarily on jellyfish.
Botelho’s photo is a rare image of a mola in its natural environment. Apparently they’re skittish; they don’t like to be around humans. This one lingered long enough for Botelho to capture the amazing image above … which he mistakenly slipped into a folder of photos he didn’t intend to use.
The creature above is a majestic cormorant, a large bird that dives into the ocean to find food.
How far can it dive? Well, that’s the amazing part.
In the video below, you’ll see a majestic cormorant that has been fitted with a videocamera by researchers in Punta Leon in Patagonia, Argentina. The scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Research Council of Antarctica were tracking cormorants’ dietary habits.
What they found is that it isn’t easy to be a cormorant. The hunt for food can be long and arduous. This bird, in particular, dives 150 feet to the bottom of the sea and remains there, searching from side to side for something to eat, before finally grabbing a “snake-like swimmer,” according to Time magazine’s website. The whole hunt, from dive to surface, takes nearly two minutes.
Keep in mind, that’s a feathered bird hanging out on the ocean floor. It’s near the southern tip of South America, close to Antarctica. The water is frigid.
Life finds a way.