The coastal waters of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are home to a wide variety of Big Fish. We have seen huge marble rays, spotted eagle rays, reef sharks, turtles and even the occasional wobbegong. By far however, the most exciting and frequent Big Fish we see around is mola mola fish.
Most renowned for their eccentric shape, the mola mola has no caudal fin, yet displays excessively large dorsal and ventral fins, making it far taller than it is long. Although often sighted by divers in shallower water, mola mola can swim to depths of almost 600m. The diet of a mola consists primarily of jellyfish, although they are also partial to the odd salp, comb jellies, zooplankton, squid, crustaceans and small fish. Fortunately for them, they possess relatively few predators – sealions, orcas and sharks being their only concern. Frequently though, molas are accidentally caught in fishing nets or are harmed through encounters with floating rubbish such as plastic bags.
The skin of a mola mola is approximately 3inches thick and its colouration is believed to be for camouflage; dark above fading to a lighter colour below. The fish are well known for the impressive number of parasites found on their skin: some 40 genera of mola parasites have been recorded to date. One of the most interesting facts about the mola mola involves its reproductive habits – females produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate, releasing up to 300million eggs into the ocean at any one time, to be externally fertilised by the male.
Their population is considered stable, though they frequently get snagged in drift gill nets and can suffocate on sea trash, like plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish. They can often be seen at cleaning stations with attendant cleaner wrasse. They are most often seen in this area from July to September