Giant sunfish surfaces in Casco Bay

In my constant search for cool pictures from the lobster boat, I was handed a gift. My Captain spotted this enormous sunfish basking in the spring sunshine, saying, “that’s the biggest sunfish I’ve ever seen in sixty years of lobstering”.




We spotted the fish just southwest of Green Island.

Green Island in Casco Bay.

Green Island in Casco Bay.

According to National Geographic, sunfish (or mola) “are the heaviest of all the bony fish, with large specimens reaching 14 feet vertically and 10 feet horizontally and weighing nearly 5,000 pounds.”

Also from National Geographic: “Ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on the pesky critters. They will even breach the surface up to 10 feet (3 meters) in the air and land with a splash in an attempt to shake the parasites.”

“They are clumsy swimmers, waggling their large dorsal and anal fins to move and steering with their clavus. Their food of choice is jellyfish, though they will eat small fish and huge amounts of zooplankton and algae as well. They are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often approach divers.”

“Their population is considered stable, though they frequently get snagged in drift gill nets and can suffocate on sea trash, like plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish.”


Here's a photo of a landed sunfish in Washington state that I found on

Here’s a photo of a landed sunfish in Washington state that I found on

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.