The Mola mola, or ocean sunfish as it's also known, isn't exactly a new discovery, but after Daniel Batelho captured a photograph in the waters off San Diego of the bizarre creature and posted it on his Facebook page last week, the Mola mola has become a sudden sensation.
Mola mola are being seen in remarkably high numbers Grind TV reported, and the sheer size of the Mola mola that Batelho photographed is phenomenal.
But don't be afraid of the Mola mola; Botelho describes the sea creature as a "gentle fish" that is "very shy."
Once the photo was put on his Facebook page "it got 1,000 'likes' in 36 hours," he told Grind TV.
The image currently has 1,723 "likes," 113 comments and 1,463 shares.
Botelho told Grind TV he actually took the picture in 2010 when he was on a blue whale photography mission. He misplaced the image, but discovered it when he was gearing up for another blue whale adventure.
"There were more than five in the same spot, but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast," Botelho explained. "But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner."
Mola mola are large, flat fish that have small mouths and large eyes, and they can weigh up to 5,000 pounds, which makes them the world's heaviest bony fish, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They can grow to 14 feet when measured from the tips of their dorsal fin and if they are measured from their anal fins they can be as long as as 10 feet.
They typically live in open waters, the aquarium said.
Botelho describes himself on his website as "an award-winning photojournalist that specializes in underwater photography. His work can be seen in more than 100 advertising campaigns. Daniel' s connection with nature dates back to his childhood, as he grew up in between the sea and the rainforest, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nowadays Daniel contributes to several publications, in more than 20 countries."
Botelho says, "It is not about the eyes, camera or lenses; I take photos with my heart. I am in love with the subjects I capture and I want to spread that love through my images. I hope you all have a good time browsing my website and please, help me spread the love, it's the only way to save our seas. Respect and love the oceans!"
Check out a video of some mola mola that were spotted in Santa Monica Bay off Los Angeles.