A Portland photo journalist was walking along Cannon Beach on Sunday, capturing Haystack Rock in her lens, when she saw a giant blob in the sand.
It was a dead Mola mola, an ocean sunfish, some 7 feet long.
“It was really surprising,” said Mary Waterhouse, the environmental buff who snapped photos of it.
The fish are surface dwellers that live off the Oregon coast. They get to be about 11 feet long. They’re the largest bony fish known and they also carry a multitude of eggs.
“They have up to 3 million eggs,” said Jessica Miller, a marine scientist at Oregon State University. “As far as anyone knows, it’s the most eggs of any vertebrate on the planet.”
Miller, a longtime Newport resident, has never seen one on the Oregon coast.
That doesn’t mean that anything is amiss, she said. It could have been hit by a boat. It’s mouth is bloody.
“You can see them if you hike out Cape Lookout,” Miller said. “It is pretty unusual to see them up on the beach.”
They attracted a lot of attention during the warm water blob in the Pacific Ocean in 2015-2016, with sunfishes turning up in Alaska.
— Lynne Terry