By Bob Berwyn
SummitCountyVoice.com on August 1, 2012
Among the more bizarre-looking visitors to California waters this summer are mola molas, or ocean sunfish, which are being seen in unusually high numbers, but it’s a stunning photograph of one of these gentle giants that appears to be getting the most attention. The image, captured off San Diego by Daniel Botelho, became an instant hit after being posted last week on his Facebook page.
“It got 1,000 ‘likes’ in 36 hours,” said Botelho, an award-winning photojournalist who specializes in underwater photography.
Botelho captured this image in July 2010 while on a blue whale photography mission. But he somehow placed it in a folder of non-used images and didn’t discover it until recently, while planning another blue whale odyssey.
The Facebook post was the first time the image had been published. “It is so funny, I wasted that image and after two years I found it, posted it, and it becomes viral,” Botelho said.
Though molas are docile and appear sluggish, they’re difficult to photograph because they’re deceivingly swift and do not generally tolerate divers who try to get close.
“There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast,” Botelho explained. “But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner.”