‘Weirdest fish in the ocean’ makes rare appearance in N.J.’s Barnegat Bay

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Public domain image

A woman spotted what an environmental advocacy organization calls the “weirdest fish in the ocean” in New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay.

Ashley Linick Barnes spotted a mola mola, also known as a sunfish, along the bay front in Ocean County’s Ortley Beach on Monday. She shared a video of the fish on Jersey Shore Hurricane News’ Facebook page and called it the “Barnegat Bay Sea Monster.”

Another video of what also appears to be a sunfish was posted on Instagram:

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Most unbelievable day in Barnegat Bay!

A post shared by Tony Siragusa (@goose9898) on

Experts say that while it’s rare to see a mola mola outside of the ocean, they do sometimes enter bays and other waterways through inlets. In 2017, angler Christian Palmisano spotted a sunfish while fishing near Barnegat.

“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 at the time. “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.

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