Ocean Sunfish off Cornwall

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This is a great time to sea watch from the cliffs of south west Cornwall as besides the birds there are Dolphins, Basking Sharks, Seals and, in the last few weeks, numbers of Ocean Sunfish sightings.

These strange looking fish, almost as wide as they are long, are the heaviest bony fish in the world weighing over 2000 Kgs and three metres in length. Despite the UK sightings being usually of much smaller ones they are still surprisingly easy to identify, even when looking down from the sea cliffs.

They often swim just beneath the surface with their dorsal fin breaking the water and from time to time they will turn, revealing their white, disc shaped body in the clear water.

This image of the dorsal fin of an Ocean Sunfish breaking the water was taken yesterday from Godrevy Point on the north coast of Cornwall in the stretch of water dividing the lighthouse with the mainland. The previous week we had a similar experience at Pendeen Watch, one of the best sea watching places in the British Isles for both birds and cetaceans, and it seems sightings of Ocean Sunfish are being had all around the shores of Cornwall at the moment.

These fish feed on jellyfish and in recent days there have been several records of the stinging Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish being washed up on North Cornish beaches. So, perhaps these Ocean Sunfish have been encouraged into our waters in greater numbers than usual by the arrival of large numbers of jellyfish. Maybe these extraordinary creatures are immune to even the stings of the Portuguese Man-of-War, which is particularly painful, as some unfortunate visitors have recently experienced.

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