Visitors to Cannon Beach met up with this sea creature Sunday morning.
It was identified as a Mola mola, an ocean sunfish, nearly 7 feet long.
Having the Mola mola swimming in the waters of the North Coast is not uncommon, but having one wash ashore only happens a couple times a year, said Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium.
The fish are surface dwellers, and while the one found on the south end of the beach near Tolovana was about 7 feet long, they can grow to be about 11 feet long. They’re the largest bony fish recorded and are known for carrying a multitude of eggs.
“It’s not that uncommon, but usually when we have them wash up they are smaller,” Boothe said. “The Mola mola is in our area in the summer. During the fall and spring if they get washed up on the beach, they are usually coming from storms from the south.”
Sunfishes garnered a lot of attention in 2015 and 2016 after turning up in Alaska due to warm water blob in the Pacific Ocean.
Boothe said the warm water current that brings the Mola mola northward has been trending closer to the shore in the past couple years, which could increase the likelihood of seeing these sunfish wash up on the beach.
“It’s a cool fish people don’t get to see very often,” Boothe said.