Sun-loving giants, weighing over 2,000lb!
What you need to know about the Sunfish
The two species of Mola, or sunfish, which are known to inhabit the Galápagos are the Mola Mola, also known as the Ocean Sunfish, and the Mola Ramsayi, the southern Sunfish. Sightings of both of these spectacular fish have been regularly reported in the waters around Galápagos, with Mola Ramsayi only being a confirmed visitor to the islands since 2011.
The Sunfish feed on a vast quantity of jellyfish, crustaceans, squid and small fish. This fish needs to take in an enormous amount of food each day in order to maintain its impressive size - adults can be as large as 6ft (1.8m) long and can weigh an astonishing 2,205lb (1000kg)!
Their name comes from the latin 'millstone' and refers to their somewhat rounded body shape. They are unusual as a species as they have an incredibly small tail which is virtually useless. They use their two fins to propel themselves through the water.
They became know as Sunfish because of their frequent visits to the surface of the water where they can be seen relaxing in the equatorial sunshine.
Because of this behaviour you can encounter these magnificent fish all year round, specifically during panga and snorkeling excursions as well as diving at sites like Punta Vicente Roca at Isabela island.
Sunfish: Interesting facts
Sunfish around the world vary considerably from Atlantic to Pacific oceans
Females can release up to 300 million eggs
Often found on Punta Vicente Roca - a part of 'Ecuador' volcano on the northwest tip of Isabela Island
Sunfish are the world's heaviest bony fish. They are related to Puffer Fish
Sunfish: Pictures from our travelers
Spots where the Sunfish can be observed
Carrion Point on the eastern coast of Santa Cruz protrudes into the ocean, creating a sheltered cove which is a superb place to snorkel.
There's no landing here, you can simply dive into the water from your boat. The sheltered waters are crystal clear and you will see a wide range of marine wildlife, including Galápagos rays, sharks, and innumerable tropical fish.
A panga ride along the coast here will also allow your Galapatours guide to tell you more about the bird species and about the ecology of this part of Santa Cruz in general.
Carrion Point Dive Site
Carrion Point is often used as a dive site before the long trip north to Wolf and Darwin Islands, so you may have your first "proper" Galápagos dive here.
The site is typical of the Galápagos, with rocky slopes and a boulder-strewn reef with only ocasional patches of sand. The habitat is very rich here, and you are likely to encounter a wide range of tropical fish, as well as hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, manta rays, as well as the ever-curious Galápagos Sea Lions.
Like her big sister Daphne Major, Daphne Minor is a barren, treeless extinct remains of a tuff cone. There are no visitor sites on Daphne Minor, but a panga ride along her shores will give the opportunity for some snorkeling.
Here is where Daphne Minor shows her true colors - literally. An unusually large amount of smaller underwater organisms live on the rocky undersea walls of the island, creating a real multi-colored environment amongst the black and grey rocks.
Other creatures often seen here include seahorses, Galápagos sharks, rays and green turtles.
Located on the eastern tip of Marchena Island, Punta Espejo is known for pelagics and dolphin encounters. Other common species that you'll be able to encounter on a dive session in Espejo point are hammerheads, turtles, rays and moray eels.
THe maximum depth is 24 meters with visibility ranging from 9 – 18 meters (30 – 60 feet). Current comes from the Southeast and are moderate to strong. Heavy surge with large swells can be encountered and diving near the coast is to be avoided.
This is one of the only places in the whole Galápagos where night diving is allowed. Fondeadero means "anchoring site", and it's well names - this is the perfect place for a night dive as it's protected from the winds and currents. This makes it possible to enjoy night diving, and to witness a whole new side to Galápagos' undersea world.
Highlights to a night dive here include the chance of seeing the see glow gently with an eerie light, thanks to the bioluminescence of tiny plankton in the water when conditions are right. You've also got an excellent chance of being joined by Galápagos Fur Seals on your dives here.
Vicente Rock Point
Galapatours clients regularly rate Vicente Rock Point as one of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving sites in Galápagos, or perhaps even in the world! There is no landing here, and snorkeling is done directly from the boats. The scenery around the Point is stunning - the remains of two ancient volcanoes made this formation, and the cliffs and caves around the bay provide an amazing backdrop.
The bay is well sheltered from ocean swells, making it ideal for snorkelers of any experience. The cold-water currents bring a rich stock of food to these waters, and the bay around Vicente Rock Point is often home to feeding frenzies, with groups of whales, dolphins, Galápagos Sea Lions, tuna, Blue-footed Boobies and other marine birds all feeding together, making for spectacular sights.
Many boats also take visitors on a panga ride along the shore, offering the chance to explore some of the caves and to encounter some of the other species such as Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and a small colony of Galápagos Fur Seals.