Giant Ocean Sunfish Discovered on Lieutenant Island

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Ocean Sunfish on Lieutenant Island

A 7-foot diameter ocean sunfish (Mola mola) stranded on Lieutenant Island’s north shore.  The relatively fresh specimen was discovered by Lydia Adler Okrent as she walked the island beach.  Lydia sent photos of the animal electronically to her mother and island resident, Becky Okrent, now in Manhattan.  Becky in turn notified Turtle Journal that the animal had stranded, so that we could document the incident and derive scientific data from this unfortunate creature.  The stranding death of ocean sunfish along Cape Cod Bay beaches is an annual phenomenon that remains a mystery to researchers.

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Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) in Lieutenant Island Salt Marsh

This morning Sue Wieber Nourse of Turtle Journal visited Lieutenant Island to document the ocean sunfish.  This specimen measured 6 foot 2 inches from snout to the trailing edge of its caudal fin and 7 foot 7 inches from the tip of its dorsal fin to the tip of its ventral fin.  Based on examinations of many stranded sunfish over the last two years, we believe that these individuals that succumb to Cape Cod tides each fall appear to be relatively young, perhaps juveniles.  A necropsy of this specimen will be conducted to determine its gender and to gather more information on potential causes of death for these magnificent ocean creatures.

Should you find an ocean sunfish or any other interesting fauna on the beaches of Cape Cod and New England, please call our Turtle Journal hotline at 508-274-5108 or email us at 


Early Tuesday afternoon “Krill” Carson conducted a necropsy of this animal and determined that it was a young female.

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