Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 23, 2009 - Ocean Sunfish stranding on Sandwich Beach, MA

Around 3:00 pm, a call came into NECWA about a live ocean sunfish (Mola mola) that was in danger of stranding on Sandwich Beach, a public beach just over the Sagamore bridge on Cape Cod. The MA Environmental Police were alerted to this possible stranding and called Krill for assistance. When Krill arrived on the scene, the sunfish was still alive, but was not fairing well since it was very close to the beach and was getting pounded by the crashing waves. This animal had been in the surf for over 2 hours and was in great danger of stranding on the beach. 

Krill was introduced to Terry, the gentleman who first notified MA Environmental Police of this potential stranding. As Krill donned her was dry suit and got in the water with the animal, Terry headed down to a local scuba shop to see if their staff could provide assistance. The plan would be to push the ocean sunfish out into deeper water and past the surf line. This was not going to be an easy feat given the size of the waves and the fish itself. This ocean sunfish was at least 6 feet long and probably weighed over 400 pounds. 

As Krill held the fish in shallow water trying to keep it from getting pushed further up on the beach, a local fisherman stopped by and tried to assist in this rescue. Soon, he and Krill were able to get the fish past the surf line and into deeper water. This was a valent effort by the fisherman since he had no dry suit, yet still got into the water with this fish. But by this time, the fish was not doing well and soon ended up getting pushed by the waves back onto the beach. Greg McGrath from the local scuba shop and a few of his friends soon arrived on the beach ready to assist. But as they waded into the water it was apparent that the ocean sunfish had died. 

This rescue effort was a valent effort by many organizations and individuals. NECWA (and especially Krill) would like to thank all those who helped out. This rescue attempt was truly a team effort from start to finish as folks worked together to assist this animal in any way that they could. It was a very sad day for everyone on the beach and everyone admired the beauty and size of this magnificent yet very strange looking fish. We can only hope that the next ocean sunfish rescue will be more successful.