Monster fish weighing more than a car and often mistaken for shark spotted off UK coast

A rare fish which can weigh as much as a car and is often mistaken for a shark has been spotted off the coast of south-east England by an eagle-eyed local.

 

The Ocean Sunfish, which is considered a vulnerable species, was snapped swimming in the waters at Ramsgate Harbour, in Kent, on Sunday.

 

The unusual visitor is generally found across tropical and temperate waters, from Iceland to Chile.

 

It is particularly notable as the Sunfish population is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

 

The species is considered vulnerable due to their tendency to become snagged in drift gill nets and suffocate on sea pollutants, such as plastic bags.

 

It is the second largest bony fish on the planet.

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It has been known to grow up to 332cm long, weighing a colossal 1,320kg.



They are commonly mistaken for sharks as a result of their large size, however they are harmless to people and will often approach divers out of curiosity.

 

The odd-looking fish is flat and circular, with a stiff fringe of skin in place of a tail.

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Its elongated fins give it the appearance of having wings.

Sunfish have been known to weigh as much as a car

The fish are regularly spotted basking in the sunshine on their sides, hence earning the name ‘Sunfish’.

 

This unusual behaviour is thought to help them raise their body temperatures after diving to feed on jellyfish in the cooler waters.

 

Sunfish are becoming an increasingly common visitor to southern and western parts of the UK, Mirror reports, but they are generally only seen in summer months, when the water is warm.

 

The Wildlife Trust asks anyone who spots a Sunfish at sea to maintain a distance of 100m and put the engine of their vessel into neutral to avoid propeller injury.

 

They also advise reporting the sighting to their local Wildlife Trust branch.



A specimen of the giant fish, which can sometimes weigh more than a car, was spotted off the coast of Dorset by a local back in 2020.

Monster fish weighing more than a car spotted off UK coast

Another Ocean Sunfish was snapped just outside Portland Harbour in June by Liz Hemsley, who shared her amazing photograph with the Marine Conservation Society.

 

They tweeted: “Wow! An Ocean Sunfish (or Mola Mola) spotted off #Portland Harbour yesterday afternoon.

 

“#Sunfish are the largest bony fish on the planet and visit UK seas during the summer months to eat jellyfish. Have you ever seen one?”

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