Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

I swam with a mola-mola

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


This is it!!! Finally! I've met him! Today, in Crystal Bay. I'm happy, happy, happy! My new friend is called mola-mola, or sunfish.

Huge!

It's a big beast, really huge, with a two-three metre wingspan, from one end of each fin (upper and lower) to the other. A big fish, then, and not too shy, despite the dozens of divers circling it in a string of bubbles.

A mola-mola or moonfish, accompanied by two fish-drivers, at Crystal Bay. (Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
A mola-mola or moonfish, accompanied by two fish-drivers, at Crystal Bay. (Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.
The mola-mola moves thanks to its two large fins, placed on either side of its body... (Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

However, at the beginning of the dive, I am not very optimistic. We go along, as the previous times, the falling, right hand. A little surf, but the current is manageable. We'll wait a few minutes in the blue, where the reef becomes a wall. But nothing.

Good. U-turn, pulling edges, because of the surf.

I scan the reef, now to my left, looking for smaller creatures to flash. A few common nudibranchs, the usual tropical fauna... I still glance to the blue, to my right, just in case.

Mola-mola in sight!

And then the divers in front of me start to get excited, while the "ding-ding" of those banging against their tanks resounds.

No doubt about it, so much commotion means: "Mola-mola in sight!" Wayan and Made, our dive-masters, turn to me, waving their hands, clenched fists, thumbs and little fingers outstretched. This is the sign for molas-molas. Peter, a German instructor who has been my buddy for several dives, widens his eyes in my direction. I get it.

Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

Except that, once again, I'm lagging behind. I pick up the pace, but the current isn't in my favor. I flipped and flipped, but to no avail.

Wayan, who was gently mocking me on the boat at the briefing, because I'm the only one who missed the sunfish the day before, turns around and charges at me. He grabs my hand and flippers like crazy to pull me right up to the beast. He's a powerhouse!

Here I am on top of it, descending another 20 metres to get closer. I can hardly believe my eyes. It's huge! Dozens of divers surround the poor beast.

It's a huge, living disc, more oval than round, with a slightly astonished round eye, two huge, powerful fins above and below, and two smaller ones on the sides.

Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

Face to face

I switch on my camera and start shooting. No time for photo adjustments. The images I'm showing you here are very blue, because they're taken from my videos. But never mind, they give you an idea of the animal's general appearance.

The mola-mola, which first shows me its profile, accompanied by two small coachfish, suddenly turns towards me, looks me straight in the face, then continues its flight to move away into the blue, after showing me its other profile. I have a front-row seat. I'm screaming with joy into my regulator.

Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

Mola-mola or moonfish, in Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. Bali, July 2008.

The mola-mola dance video

On the landing, I'm wriggling happily, one hand on my head, the other under my buttocks, imitating the mola-mola swim. The others laugh into their regulators.

I pose with Made, then Wayan and Kimberly, a Californian dive-master, and Peter immortalizes us with his camera... The video rendering from my little A95 isn't fabulous, but it makes for some nice memories all the same (thanks to Peter for the images of me "dancing"):

Cuttlefish in the current

What a beautiful day! On our first drift dive at Pura Mas Gading, we also came across a large, placid cuttlefish. Despite a furious current, I clung to the reef and managed to get a good shot at it.

Cuttlefish in Pura Mas Gading. (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

Cuttlefish in Pura Mas Gading. (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Cuttlefish in Pura Mas Gading. (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.) 

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

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  1. Wouaaa super le mola mola!! ici le soleil es revenu mais c'est sans compter sur le vent qui souffle à 70km/h, loupé pour la plongée ce week-en, 💡 bon ben je vais aller faire un tour à cheval na!:P
    keep on with the photos, they look like sporty dives down there!
    @ more
    laurence

  2. OUAH!!!!!!!Super!!!Génial!!!!!I'm so happy for you,your story has captivated me!!!I'm in Folegandros,at the Nikos café,and,they have a wifi connection....Unbelievable but true!!!It's a great café,resto,on a square under the trees,with a whole bunch of bric-a-brac,games,puzzles,newspapers,in short,I love it!!!!!At first, I even thought it was a joke, when I saw Wireless internet written on the board....but no, it's true!!! We're in Folegandros for another 5,6 days, so I'll be able to connect a little more regularly, now that I know where!!!!
    Everything's still going very well! No mola-mola in sight as far as I'm concerned....and that's fine with me.....I like them, but in photos......
    I'm kissing you strongly!

  3. Yo Corinne,
    I'm back from La. Too short but great. So you do it. Diving with a zenorme fish. your photos are already impressive... So de visu direct! veinarde.Vivement the video that you did not fail to make. Biz. (and I can't wait to see a mola to stop smoking) 😆

  4. @ Yves:
    Yes... and I'm spoiled: another mola-mola today!!!! Life is beautiful!
    😀

    @ Laurence:
    The "sporty" side of diving here depends on the day and the site... Today, for example, there was hardly any current, but the view was excellent! Really surprising. But on the whole, the drifters are fast, even very fast. As for the others... well, I'd better get back into pool training during the year to get a better feel for them. I'm no good when it comes to pressing a bit...
    😛

    @ Helene:
    Your little cafe looks really nice! Enjoy it. See you soon with wireless internet...
    8)

    @ Funnyworld:
    Yo Sam! Pfff, yes, it's going by too fast, that's what I'm thinking too, as I'm nearing the end of my stay... But hey, I've still got a few days to "ploufer" in Lembogan. You can tell me all about LA in person on a Rennes terrace, which I hope will be sunny one day soon. In the meantime, I'm going to continue with the underwater photos... I'm really pleased, I saw the big baby again this morning!!!!
    🙄

  5. WAOU...!!! IT'S GREAT
    😮
    Great photos with ever so nice comments 🙄
    but yes, it's Corinne all right.
    In short, more beautiful encounters with the Mola-Mola, you are a lucky girl 🙄
    Have a good end of your stay
    Bye 😉 8)

  6. Thank you Framac! Yes, I recognize that I am a lucky man.
    🙂

    I'm coming to the end of my stay, with just two days left to "dive in", before returning to Kuta and the long hours on the plane... I feel so good in Lembogan, that I've decided to stay here until the end.

    Who knows? Maybe I'll be lucky enough to come across another... er, let's say... school of molas-molas?
    😆

  7. Yes, it's a real scandal!!!
    😆

    I was lucky enough to see them 3 times out of 5 trips to Crystal Bay, bearing in mind that the divers on the other trips spotted the one I missed on the 2nd trip... Which makes a ratio of 4 out of 5: I therefore conclude that there's a good chance of encountering molas mola in Crystal Bay at this time of year. Of course, it's best to arrive early in the morning, before there are too many boats and divers around.

    Now that I'm back home and have my Mac back, I'm going to start sorting through the photos and editing my Molamolesque video sequences to make a little "cosmic" film...
    😉

  8. I'm laughing to myself at your enthusiasm, in front of my screen... We almost saw them in Bali, and I've heard that they're also seen here in the waters off Marseille, but smaller ones it seems. That's a lot less jet lag than Bali!...

    😉

  9. And I laugh at making you laugh like that ...
    😆

    My enthusiasm is the measure of my disappointment the day before, when I was the only one on the boat to have missed the molas-molas... It's always very exciting to meet for the first time a critter you've never seen before.
    😀

    Laurence, another diver, told me she'd seen sunfish in the English Channel, too. The World Diving people told me that there are sunfish in all the world's seas, but that it's not always easy to observe them as you can in Nusa Penida.

    Well, I know what I've got to do: come and dip my flippers in Marseille's waters one day soon (which must be a little less cold than Brittany's or Normandy's).
    8)

  10. I hate mola-mola. I saw some at the aquarium in Lisbon and I thought I was going to have a heart attack, I was so scared...

  11. @Kikkiiii: The only point of this comment is to tell us that there are mola-molas at the Lisbon aquarium... So I'll leave it, after rewriting it in French (I also use SMS language, but only to send SMS messages).
    🙄

  12. I'm in CE2A and I'm going to move on to CM1A or CM1B, I'm doing a presentation, at the end there will be lots of parents in the playground and they'll watch the presentations and read, my group was working on the mola mola and the others on the giant squid or siam the elephant or the dodo good bizz 😉

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