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Vulnerable 2-Metre Long Sunfish Stuns Tourists After Washing Up On Beach

by : Emily Brown on : 29 Jul 2020 18:36
Cath Rampton/Instagram

Australia is known to be home to some big, unusual and sometimes scary animals, but tourists there were left stunned when they spotted a two-metre long fish washed up on a beach. 

The finding would have definitely come as a surprise, but I’d much rather stumble upon a massive fish than a tarantula, a snake or even an angry kangaroo.

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The alien-like sea creature, which was actually a sunfish, was found on a popular tourist beach at the mouth of Kennett River on Victoria’s south-west coast on Saturday, July 25, after the waves brought it to shore.

Tourists Cath Rampton and her husband Tom both work as vets, but even with their experience with animals, the sunfish was new to them.

Cath told Daily Mail Australia the sea creature measured around two metres in length and height, and while that’s a whole lot bigger than your average pet fish, it’s actually quite small for the species.

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The tourist commented:

My understanding is it’s not a very big specimen, I think they can get up to double that size.

According to National Geographic, ocean sunfish, otherwise known as mola mola, can grow up to 4.2 metres (14 feet) vertically and three metres (10 feet) horizontally, weighing up to nearly 5,000 pounds.

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The fish can be found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world, and they’re frequently seen basking in the sun near the surface.

Evidently, this particular fish hadn’t come on to the beach to bask in the sun; it had presumably met its death beforehand. The species is considered vulnerable, and they frequently get snagged in drift gill nets and can suffocate on rubbish.

Sunfish survive on small fish, zooplankton and algae, though their food of choice is jellyfish. Unfortunately, the species can mistake plastic bags floating in the ocean for their favourite dish, and can die after trying to eat them.

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The fish are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often approach divers.

Another couple of tourists, Tim Rothman and James Barham, came across the fish on Monday and described its appearance as something other-worldly.

Huge sun fish washes up in AustraliaHuge sun fish washes up in AustraliaCath Rampton/Instagram

Speaking to the Geelong Advertiser, as per the MailOnline, Tim said:

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We were walking along and saw this big lump on the sand.

I’ve never seen anything like that before. It looked like an alien from a distance.

Tim said he had frequently visited Kennett River over the years, and he doubted he would ever see a fish like it again.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Australia, Now, Victoria

Credits

Mail Online and 2 others
  1. Mail Online

    'Looks like an alien!' Tourists are left stunned as one of the world's biggest and rarest sea creatures washes up on an Australian beach

  2. National Geographic

    Ocean Sunfish

  3. Cath Rampton

    @cathrampton