On Monday, police in Wareham, Massachusetts, found themselves fielding an onslaught of calls about a strange sighting in Broad Cove.
Some people reported an injured seal, while others thought they had seen a shark along the coastline of the town about 55 miles south of Boston. In the end, the mysterious sea creature turned out to be a sunfish, whose dorsal fin can resemble a shark’s fin.
The Wareham Department of Natural Resources made a plea on Facebook for concerned citizens to stop calling 911 about the big fish.
“We are aware of a sunfish in Broad Cove,” read the post. “We have checked on it, and it is doing normal sunfish activities. Its swimming. It is not stranded or suffering. The sunfish is FINE. Dont be jealous just because its not swimming weather anymore! PLEASE STOP CALLING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ABOUT THIS SUNFISH!!”
The sunfish, also called a mola, is one of the world’s largest bony fish, according to National Geographic. It can grow to 11 feet long and weigh up to 2.5 tons or 5,000 pounds. “Mola are found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world,” says National Geographic. “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.”
“Sunfish tend to be a normal visitor to our area during this time of year and we’re happy to report he exited our harbor inlet on its own,” Garry Buckminster, director of the Department of Natural Resources in Wareham, told “TODAY.”
“I started receiving calls on my personal phone around 6:30 a.m. regarding the sunfish and from there, the police department dispatch center started to receive calls after that,” he said. “We put out the plea because we have an extremely busy police department and while we greatly appreciate people keeping an eye out to notify us it’s important to keep the police dispatch free for other calls and potential emergencies. We have business lines at the Department of Natural Resources where messages can be left. In addition we work directly with NECWA (New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance) should the sunfish become stranded.”
Buckminster estimated that the sunfish in question was on the smaller side, about 150 to 250 pounds.
The Wareham Department of Natural Resources told “TODAY” that on Monday, it was notified by the Wareham Emergency Communications Center (ECC) of a possible injured seal in Broad Cove, in Onset.