The Best Medicine

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Fishy & Random, Videos
Tags: , , , ,

For me, there are two reasons I love to be on the ocean. 1) Fishing. As in hunting fish. 2) Nature. As in experiencing the stuff that is there to see.  A couple of weeks ago, I was out with my pals Matt and Joe (see Reason #1), and we were I was getting the crap kicked out of us me by some rough water, and a bite that just wouldn’t switch on. Between casts my stomach would lurch, and flop, and clench as my temperature rose uncomfortably, and my palms grew clammier by the minute. Every time I turned my head, my meager breakfast began rising in my throat. After what seemed like a thousand 6 foot swells rolling past, I called it and told them, “I’ve gotta go in, or this is going to get ugly quick.”

First seen off of Dana Point

I’m not one of those guys who can just lean over the rail and quietly empty the contents of his gut into the clear blue water, allowing the other occupants of the vessel relative peace. Maybe I missed that day in Reverse Peristalsis 101, where they teach you to barf gracefully, or perhaps it was the severe potty training. No matter. The result is the same; I’m the guy who’s body tries to turn itself inside out with a crippling, seizing, body-length convulsion reminiscent of The Exorcist. People could be injured, namely me, and besides it’s damned embarassing… to watch.

Being friends, and not wanting to experience my disgraceful hurl-fest first hand, they relented and reeled up their unbit lines. We motored slowly across the surging swell toward the nearby refuge of Dana Point Harbor, and I felt immediate relief in knowing I would soon be in more stomach settling water. I’m not proud of my status as a wimp, but the weight of the annoyed looks I was getting bounced off like I was made of Teflon. Very queasy Teflon.

Even when I’m expressing my wuss-ness, I’m still a curious soul.


Through my unsettled eyes (yes, even my eyes were sick) I spied a white blob barely under the surface and without hesitation turned the boat in the direction of the disturbance, which I hoped would be something interesting to look at (see Reason #2). It turned out to be a whopper of a Mola Mola. For the uninitiated, a Mola sighting is quite bizarre. These gentle, but huge alien looking, fish are also called Ocean Sunfish because they will lazily fin at the surface on their sides, apparently resting under the radiant gaze of our nearest star. They do this until a boat comes near, or, I suppose, until they just feel like swimming away. Sometimes, like this time, it takes a bit more to get them off the dime.

Broadside of a 200# Mola Mola

In our case, the fish wasn’t in a hurry to dive and disappear as quickly as the other Mola’s I’ve seen. In fact, with its pale white color, and flaccid road-kill-esque demeanor, I was pretty sure it was dead and motored right next to it to take a look at my grisly find. Always the 8-year old boy, I gave it a gentle, but curious “Eeew, it’s dead!” test poke with a long boat hook, and was more than a little surprised when the baseball sized eye flinched and snapped shut. You can’t get the scale from the photos, but this fish was large, as in 6-7 feet from nose to tail, and roughly equal dimensions from tip to tip of its enormous fins. I don’t know about you, but when an eye, on a fish that big, snaps shut within feet from my own eye, it’s startling. I must admit, I jumped back, just a tiny little bit.

Mola Mola Up Close & Personal

I immediately felt remorse for my child-like morbid curiosity and grabbed my camera to turn the moment into this blog post. We circled the beast and to my surprise, it stayed within arms reach of the boat for several minutes. There was plenty of time for me to shoot a handful of underwater still shots, and assemble my video camera to shoot the video you see below. It’s not going to win any awards for anything, or likely get more than a few dozen views, but I think it was some of the coolest footage I’ve ever shot of wildlife. The 1985 Blag Flag frat house basement concert video excepted.

Our big pale pal swam over to the boat and my overwhelming childishness blasted forth yet again. I leaned over the gunwale of the boat and grabbed the fish by the giant dorsal fin. The photo does a good job of showing the scale compared to my hand. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but it just felt right. I touch fish all the time, but this one was different. I had not hooked the fish, nor fought it, or even baited it for that matter. This creature was content to hang out with us and allow me to interact with it, physically. I’m sure the fish must have been sick, and perhaps even dying to allow such hyjinx, but the experience was one I won’t forget. It felt like shark skin, and the meat tasted like chicken. (I’m joking…)

After the fish decided to dive, I realized that my sea-sickness was gone, as in 100% symptom free. I’m sure there’s some sort of deep and meaningful life lesson, or cosmic soul-bonding, inter-species love/medical miracle story there, but I’m going to chock it up to simple awe. Whatever it was, it worked like a charm. Thanks Mother Nature.

This was one big mellow fish.


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