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I have agreed with Syrphus. As this ID covers plastic bag. Not a Sun Fish as the top fin is not shown. There is something stuck in the bag that looks like a "false eye" though.
Agree with Refugee, it looks very much like a plastic bag, something which is all too common floating in the sea. Things like this can often lead to disappointment!
Apologies for the poor picture quality, but I have to disagree. I am confident that this is a Sunfish. I could see the elongated dorsal fin raising above the surface, but could not photograph it. However if you zoom in on the original image you can see it just below the surface at right angles to the body.
I appreciate that this is a poor picture, taken from distance, but it is the best that I could get.
Your object is completely the wrong shape for Mola. See http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/FishID/images/Mola_mola.jpg. Mola has very large and prominent dorsal and ventral fins, and a very short but deep tail fin. None of these is even vaguely indicated in your picture. There is also a long 'tail' in your pic extending to the right, which resembles nothing in Mola. It is this that suggested to me a weather balloon or similar structure.
recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.
Have had another look, I do admit my original plastic bag theory could be completely wrong, It really looks as a bag does in the water BUT I can see it as a sunfish now after a close look. I do see the protrusion you mentioned and a possible eye, mouth and general sunfish 'face' shape pointing upwards. If it is a sunfish and I think you may well be right (a bag cannot stick a fin out of the water like you saw!) refraction? is distorting its shape. I think I can see it now, sorry.
Maybe stick up a close up crop Scott? It seems to be reflecting a bit too much light at first glance, and therefore gives the impression of a white object, but the only live sunfish I have seen and posted recently was surprisingly silver and reflective. I think you are right.
The long tail fin extending to the right that you mentioned is the dorsal. I think that the absence of a large, prominent anal fin opposite the dorsal could be caused by the rolling of the waves and refraction, as pointed out by Cathal, distorting the image. At the top left you can make out an eye, a v-shaped notch, which is the open mouth and a dark shadow beneath the eye could be the operculum and pectoral fins. These are not clear, but they are in the correct anatomical positions for Sunfish.
However, I can see why you are sceptical based on this image.
I will try to upload a cropped photograph.
I am still unconvinced, I'm afraid. If the 'tail' is the dorsal fin, and the black spot is the eye then we are looking at the fish from in front and dorsally. The mouth would then be at the extreme LH point, not where you have described it. What you have interpreted would fit a dorso-ventrally flattened fish like a ray or angler, but Mola is laterally flattened. The 'mouth' is too large and in the wrong place, and the 'fin' too long in proportion to the 'body' to be Mola. The dark shadow you say are the pectoral fins and operculum are dorsal to the 'eye' by your interpretation, not behind it and slightly ventral where the fish has them. See http://www.laups.org/gallery2/d/497-2/Mola_mola.jpg.
I can actually clearly see how this is a refracted sunfish, I think we are viewing the fishes left flank but that it is quite refracted, virtually causing the fishes rear half to vanish. There are almost too many things in the correct anatomical positions for it to be anything else. The mouth itself isnt actually visible, its pointing up and away from the camera, and I agree it is very small, I think the dent visible below where I consider the mouth to be is refraction by the water, it definitely isnt the mouth as it is too big a dent and just a bit low to be the mouth.
Yes Scott I agree the long thin protrusion to the right is the dorsal fin and that also is in the correct position but it is possibly a bit stretched by refraction/distortion, not sure any of the ventral fin in visible, the pale thing that I thought might be the badly refracted ventral fin could just be light reflecting off the water. The dark shadow close to the eye is below and behind the eye on the left flank where the pectoral and operculum should be, they too are in the correct position.
I see a sunfish here lying at an angle, its neither vertical, horizontal nor keeled plumb in any way, it face is pointing to approx 11 o clock but also away from the camera. Refraction is to blame for the fish not appearing as it should. The more I look at it, but it has to be in close up and your crop is a good improvement Scott, the harder it is not to see the sunfish. I'd love to see the original image Scott?
Edit- the image I have saved is 3.66mb and probably is the original. Just zoomed in on it again, the dark shadow near the eye, its more than a shadow, its a pectoral fin and just in front an open operculum. Both are there where they should be, just behind the eye.
Edit again, sorry, but the tip of the dorsal fin is just breaking the surface, I'm almost certain.
It still looks like a plastic bag with a ripped handle with a hole or bubble in the bottom.
I think that refraction distorting the image would make sense as the rocks I was standing on were not very elevated above the water.
I have also been looking on google at other Sunfish images and many are badly distorted when viewed on an angle as the surface.
Scott I think the shape of the wave formation combined with the angle the fish is lying at is the issue, but having said that, you were still fortunate in a way to have the forward portion of the fish within the upward gradient of the base of the wave. The rear portion of the fish is in the trough, the water we see it through there is pretty much flat, rendering the fishes tail end seriously compressed.
I said above that the tail end has vanished but thats not completely accurate. I can see the fishes tail but it is very badly compressed and therefore the sunfish shape is totally distorted. Unfortunately the ventral fin doesnt seem to be reflecting any light at all, possibly just compressed too much by the distortion by the surface shape.(EDIT- The ventral fin cant be appreciated at all because it is obscured by a low wave crest between the viewer and that part of the fish. There is simply too much water between the viewer and the fishes extreme ventral portion, which is where the ventral fin is positioned, for it to be visible. The lump of water ie the low wave just our side of the fish isnt easily discernible, but it is undoubtedly there and is obscuring a complete view of the animal.)
The fishes upper rear half close to the dorsal is less compressed than its ventral rear half, because the ventral rear half is right down in the trough of the wave, it is being viewed through the greatest amount of water.
Its all there but its badly distorted. The fish is between upright and flat on the surface (closer to flat) either in the course of orientating itself, or due to the motion of the waves, or a bit of both.
I couldn't see it to begin with; thought it might be a ray of some kind with the tail to the right in the picture. Now I can see it, I think it is quite clear.
The dorsal fin is to the right and the fish is heading diagonally left into the wave. I agree with Cathal in that the ventral fin, which would be to the left has been lost in the refraction of the water due to the slight ripple/wave crest just in front of where it would be.
I have been a diver for nearly 6 years now and I have only ever seen one of these in the water; at about 10-12m deep and that was a small one, down in Poole.
I know they do lay flat on the surface like this sometimes.
I would say that this is unmistakably a Sunfish (Mola mola).
"A bad day diving is better than a good day at work!"
Theres a couple of good images here of mola mola doing their typical swimming sideways or just lying sideways behaviour, its this behaviour that gives rise to the name sunfish- they are considered to be taking in rays, there might be some truth in this?
Look right down the length of the page, good examples of fish lying flat.
Labelled version of the cropped image available here:
I saw one off the Isle of Wight a few years ago, which looked very similar. Good that you stuck with it and re-animated the inanimate object! Ha!
It's hard to refute, disagree, even doubt the comments made by Cathal. Excellent.
And Scott is now entirely vindicated. Well done.
An excellent Comment Trail.
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