Diving With the Sunfish
Anyone who has seen one will never forget the encounter. The sunfish (Mola mola) is not only the largest bony fish in the world, but is also the most unusual. Its German name, “Floating Head,” aptly describes it. As if the torso was severed, the body looks like it ends abruptly. Instead of a caudal fin, it has a blunt body end. Flattened laterally, sunfish look disc shaped. The heaviest individual to-date weighed over 2,200 kilograms.
Where to Dive With the Sunfish
These gentle giants are often sighted individually and close to the surface, found in temperate and tropical waters all around the world. Sunfish are easy to spot from a boat because they enjoy basking in the sun. They enjoy lying on their side, floating at the surface. Scientists are unsure of the reason for this behavior; however, it is believed that they kill parasites with the UV light from the sun. Seabirds have also been seen picking off parasites from the large fish from the air. An astonishing sight is seeing this colossal fish jump several meters out of the water. Another behavior thought to knock parasites off their skin.
Diving With the Leafy Seadragon
The leafy seadragon is an amazing sight. Its body is wavy, flattened on the side, and perfectly camouflaged despite its striking color pattern of yellow dots, blue stripes, and red-violet shades. It is hard to believe that such a colorful fish can merge with their surroundings right before your eyes.
Where to Dive With the Leafy Seadragon
The leafy seadragon can grow up to 40 cm long and belongs to the seahorse and pipefish family. They are endemic to only a single area in South Australia. As with all seahorses, their bodies are covered with bony plates that offer protection but restrict mobility.
The leafy seadragon moves with the help of their dorsal fin, producing up to 70 waves per second. The color of the leafy seadragon heavily depends on their food. The greenish-yellow hue of their main food source, crab, is reflected in their exterior. Deep-water species are colored reddish-brown, like the crayfish they eat in deeper regions.
Diving With the Giant Pacific Octopus
Long gone are the days when the knowledge of marine animals was limited, and imagination immeasurable. Stories of giant octopuses pulling people down into the depths of the sea are now just fairy tales. However, if an octopus could serve as a template for such stories, then the giant Pacific octopus would be the main character. It is the largest of all octopus species, with arm spans of over 4 meters.
Where to Dive With the Giant Pacific Octopus
Seeing these eight-armed giants is fairly restrictive. Giant Pacific Octopuses are only found along the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. These giant octopuses are not just big; they are also often colored in a beautiful orange-brown hue. These predominantly nocturnal predators feed mostly on shellfish such as crabs and lobsters, but will also eat smaller fish.
The giant Pacific octopus is widespread. They can be found in shallow water to depths of 1500 meters. In the summer, these animals are attracted to mate in deeper water. In autumn and winter, they come to lay their eggs in shallow water.
This article was written by divers and editors of the underwater magazine. Read more in the Unterwasser digital subscription.
Source: Featured Image©iStock-stephnea