North Carolina

There were cries of ‘shark, shark’ in NC waterway. But it was actually something cooler

There were cries of ‘shark, shark’ in NC waterway. But it was actually something cooler

A video posted to Facebook shows a fin swimming through the water and shouts of “shark” to swimmers participating in Wrightville Beach’s Swim the Loop. It actually appeared to be a large mola mola, or sunfish.
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A video posted to Facebook shows a fin swimming through the water and shouts of “shark” to swimmers participating in Wrightville Beach’s Swim the Loop. It actually appeared to be a large mola mola, or sunfish.

The video starts with what appears to be the fin of a shark swimming towards a dock, and people yelling for folks to get out of the water. But as the large fin sticking out of the water gets closer, a huge fish that most now agree is a mola mola, or sunfish swims by.

People were on the dock to welcome back about 20 swimmers who went for the Swim the Loop open water swim on Saturday after the main race was cancelled because of Hurricane Florence, said race director Kristin Jeno who posted the video.

Mola can reach 10 feet long and 14 feet vertically, and have a distinct bullet-shaped body, according to National Geographic. The massive fish can weigh up 5,000 lbs, making it the heaviest bony fish in the ocean, National Geographic notes.

“They are frequently seen basking in the sun near the surface and are often mistaken for sharks when their huge dorsal fins emerge above the water,” according to National Geographic.

“It was massive. I’ve never seen something quite that size,” Jeno said in a phone interview with McClatchy. She said she was in the water when the fish swam by, but she got a look at it when it came by the dock where she got out of the water. “Everybody is is fairly certain it was a sunfish,” Jeno said, even if there are a couple holdouts who still think it was a shark.

Jeno posted the video to Facebook over the weekend, where it’s had more than 125,000 views in about three days.

WWAY showed the video to staff at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, who agreed that it was likely a mola.

“Aquarium staff says the dorsal fin and the broad head and body points to a mola,” WWAY reports.

Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting
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