There was no back story provided but Botelho, when reached via email, explained that he captured this image in July of 2010, while on a blue whale photography mission. But he somehow placed it in a folder of non-used images and did not discover it until recently, while planning another blue whale odyssey.
Though molas are docile and appear sluggish, they’re difficult to photograph because they’re deceivingly swift and do not generally tolerate divers who try to get close.
“There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast,” Botelho explained. “But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner.”
The photographer in the image had hoped to photograph Botelho next to the sunfish but instead he became the subject to lend perspective as to how large and moon-like molas can be.
The sunfish can measure 14 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They’re found in tropical and temperate oceans. With their large bodies, truncated tails, tiny mouths, and huge eyes, they look like something not entirely whole and not of this world.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in a species description, states: “Ocean sunfish, or molas, look like the invention of a mad scientist.”
OH MY GOSH, I AM A NATURE LOVER BUT THAT THING GIVES ME THE WILLIES!