Holy moly: Mola mola makes rare appearance in Barnegat Bay

An angler spotted what an environmental advocacy organization calls the “weirdest fish in the ocean” while fishing in New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay.

Christian Palmisano was on his boat near an oyster farm off Barnegat Township in Ocean County when he spotted a mola mola, also known as an ocean sunfish.

He says the discovery of the odd looking creating was surprising.

“I’ve seen a bunch offshore, but this is the first in the bay. Someone got lost. It must have been carried in with the incoming tide,” he said. “They aren’t extremely rare here but not something you see everyday.”

The Nature Conservancy says the fish is the “heaviest bony fish in the ocean — and the weirdest.”

According to the organization, the fish produces “more eggs than any other vertebrate on earth,” with females carrying 300 million eggs.

The fish, with a bullet-like, silvery appearance, grow up to 11-feet, weigh up to 2.5 tons, and live to around 10 years, according to National Geographic.

The magazine says they’re found in temperate and tropical oceans globally and often mistaken for sharks due to their huge dorsal fins.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says mola mola are found along the New Jersey coast and not rare.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.