Injured mola mola, boaters be careful!

Photo credit: Henry Jurgens

On a recent trip out of Redondo Beach, my friend and fellow whale watching enthusiast Henry Jurgens got a great shot of a Mola mola or ocean sunfish. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice four slices in its head and a nasty scrape on the nose. This poor Mola mola had a terrible human interaction, probably with a boat propeller.

Now I know it’s not always easy to spot wildlife when you’re sailing the high seas, but boaters in the Southern California area really need to practice extra caution. We’re fortunate to have ocean conditions off our coast that attract tons of wildlife.

Deep canyons close to shore, as deep as 3,000 feet, attract deep water animals such as sperm whales, the California Current carries cold water from the north allowing some northern species to live here, and the Channel Islands and shape of Southern California’s coast create a unique ocean mixing environment. Take all these factors and then add the right amount of wind and you get…upwellings, when cold ocean water from the deep moves to the surface bringing minerals for plant growth. I’m simplifying how all these factors create a complex ocean environment, but the point is that Southern California ocean waters are really productive and attract all sorts of animals looking for a good meal close to shore.

For boaters, this means that you never know who you might cross paths with, a deep diving sperm whale or a slow moving mola mola. So be extra alert and watch out for wildlife, it’s the best way to maintain good boat karma!



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