WEIRD NEWS

Massachusetts Coastal Town Orders Locals To Stop Calling 911 About Giant Fish

"PLEASE STOP CALLING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ABOUT THIS SUNFISH!!" the Wareham Department of Natural Resources demanded on social media.

The local government of Wareham, a town in southern Massachusetts’ Plymouth County, has asked locals to please stop calling the police about a big, blobby fish that has been spotted minding its own business in coastal waters.  

The fish — a whopper of a creature that has attracted dozens of emergency calls since Monday from locals mistaking it for a shark or a seal, according to The Cape Code Times — is an ocean sunfish.

Formally known by the genus name Mola, the ocean sunfish (Mola mola) can grow to nearly 10 feet in length, weighing in at more than a stunning 4,400 pounds.

An enormous sunfish in San Diego, California, with a diver nearby for scale. 
An enormous sunfish in San Diego, California, with a diver nearby for scale. 

Sightings of the monstrously sized swimmer began popping up in Wareham’s Broad Cove, with enough locals calling 911 to eventually warrant personnel from the Warham Department of Natural Resources to take a look. 

Their verdict, as reported on Facebook: “The sunfish is doing normal sunfish activities. It’s swimming. It is not stranded or suffering. The sunfish is FINE. ... PLEASE STOP CALLING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ABOUT THIS SUNFISH!!”

Ocean sunfish are no strangers to New England, and in September, one was freed after it managed to wedge itself along a pier at the Scusset Beach State Reservation at Cape Cod Canal in Massachusetts, with footage capturing only a brief glimpse of the fish’s fin on the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance’s Facebook page. 

Carol Carson, president of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance, told The Cape Cod Times that sunfish sightings happen every fall and that the big swimmers are generally gentle giants — except for their tendency to spit at people when bothered.  

In July, researchers in Australia and New Zealand managed to identify the rarely seen larval form of the ocean sunfish — a surprisingly teeny tot despite its goliath adult form.