The Barnacle

Features and Fish Tales From Seaport Academy

A Surprise Ending to an Overnight Fishing Trip
mari ::: Adventures

Giant Ocean Sunfish (Mola Mola)A Giant Ocean Sunfish, or Mola Mola, like the one pictured here, was a surprise visitor during a recent kayaking adventure in Buttermilk Bay. Photo by BURИBLUE

Seaport Academy students recently had their first experience with petitioning for a privilege. Five of Seaport’s resident fishing stars addressed the entire Seaport community to request an overnight fishing trip. The students wanted to take advantage of the striped bass fall migration through the Cape Cod Canal.

It took courage and commitment by the students involved to make this trip happen. Public speaking is one of the worst fears of many adults, and the Seaport students did a great job of preparing, and presenting their proposal. To make this trip happen, the students also had to meet or exceed all school expectations, make up all the work they were going to miss and take part in the planning of the trip. 

Staff and students camped out on the shores of Buttermilk Bay in tents and sleeping bags provided by  YES Kids, a great Massachusetts nonprofit organization that works with schools like ours and helps bring outdoor adventure experiences to urban kids. The next morning we headed out in search of bass.

Although the fishing  was less than excellent, we had a truly special opportunity to get face-to- face with one of the ocean’s unique residents—the giant ocean sunfish or Mola Mola. "Mola" is Latin for "millstone" and suggests the round flat shape of this odd-looking fish. This is the heaviest bony fish in the world and adults often reach 10 feet in length.

It was a thrill to see this creature swimming in Buttermilk Bay.  As we paddled along side in our ocean kayaks, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the fish. Unfortunately the following morning we awoke to find the giant creature had beached itself. 

Seaport Academy Mola MolaCold November waters contributed to the death of the fish we encountered.

We tried in vain to save the sunfish, but we were informed by a state biologist that the cold water is what led to our visitor's death. There was nothing we could have done for it. The biologist on the scene also noted our visitor was a female who stayed much longer than she should have in our northern waters.  A necropsy will be performed and hopefully its death provides new information for future research and conservation

Although we were all saddened by our visitor’s departure, it did offer us the uncommon experience of viewing and studying such an ancient and rare creature of the deep.

Special thanks to Eric Williamson, Bry Cardello, Nate & Emelio for this blog post.