One of the charm of Nusa Penida’s underwater, Bali, is the presence of the gigantic, heaviest bony fish in the world. The legendary Mola Mola Bali or ocean sunfish. A round, flattened fish which body ends abruptly in the middle where their wide tail sprung like a skirt. Due to the anatomy, this fish has this weird-looking expression as if they are surprised all the time. Under the world of blue, the Mola Mola seems like a floating big, bulbous fish head and this is definitely a delight for many divers!
The Mola Mola in Bali could reach to 1.8 m long and 2.5 m wide from fins to fins. They love to swim in the twilight zone of the sea which make them practically unable to dive with. At specific time of the year, the cold currents of the ocean goes up and this is the time for the Mola to swim out from the deep to the shallower water. This is also the time when they got their yearly spa routine at the so called cleaning station. Here come the chance for divers to observe the Mola, and here’s how you should behave around this precious creature.
Arrange small group to see Mola Mola Bali
During the rest of the year, Mola Mola spend their time deep in the twilight zone. Everything were quiet, dark, and slow. They can get nervous as they suddenly meet fast moving divers with busy air bubbles fuming out from regulators. This is a fuss in Mola’s standard. It can be stressing for the poor fish! Always dive in small group (max 4 divers) to minimise the stress of the Mola. Dive in turns with other groups. If you see a Mola within the presence of other groups, minimise your interaction to about 5 minutes.
Stop and approach it slowly
Mola Mola is basically wild and just like any wild animal, you can’t expect when they’ll make appearance. Even when you have waited at the cleaning station. If they do, refrain from being too enthusiastic. We know you are excited, but please keep your calm. Stop where you are and approach the fish very slowly. Give them plenty of personal space to swim around without being disturbed by you. Don’t make sudden movement. This allow enough room for the Mola so as not to frighten it away by your presence. A calm and non threatening approach could even invite Mola’s curiosity to check you out!
Keep your distance in check
One of the best place to see the Mola Mola is at the cleaning station. Sometimes several Molas get in line, waiting for their turn to get cleaned. The sunfish will get into comatose mode when they enjoy getting cleaned by their little helpers and won’t pay much attention to the surrounding. This is the best time for divers to get their best shot! Even so, you better keep your distance in check to avoid startling the sunfish. Never move closer than 3 meters. If the sunfish is showing signs of being disturbed, back away at least 10 meters. You don’t want to dive this far just to have the rare sunfish running away from you.
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Never attempt to touch the Mola Mola Bali
On rare occasion when you can get close enough with Mola Mola, you might feel intrigued to pet it. To see how a Mola feels like in your hand. But please, just don’t. When you touch a Mola, you might remove layers of mucus on the skin that prevents them from getting infection.
Be mindful while taking photograph
Just like the Mola Mola Bali could get unsettled by divers’ bubbles, they can get upset from blinding flash. Please refrain from using the flash photography as so to not irritate the poor Mola. You don’t want to have your relaxing spa session be abruptly disturbed by sharp light flashing on your face, do you?