If you spot a large, awkward-looking fish floundering off the coast of Wareham, Massachusetts, don't call 911. That's the plea the Wareham Department of Nature Resources made to its Facebook followers on Monday, October 12. "We are aware of a sunfish in Broad Cove. We have checked on it, and it is doing normal sunfish activities," the post reads. "It's swimming. It is not stranded or suffering. The sunfish is FINE."
As The New York Times reports, calls about the sunfish began pouring in early Monday morning. The sea creature had found its way into a cove off Buzzards Bay, where it alarmed local residents, but the reasons for their reports varied. The fish has a large dorsal fin, so some people thought they were seeing a shark dangerously close to shore. Others thought it was a hurt seal based on its strange movements.
People more familiar with the sunfish wouldn't have been surprised by its odd appearance and behavior. The animal is the largest bony fish in the ocean, measuring 10 feet long and weighing 2200 pounds on average. It's named after its tendency to sunbathe by swimming on its side near the water's surface. What looks like bad swimming or even a sign of injury to onlookers is actually how the fish likes to spend up to half its day.
Following calls related to a strange animal near Buzzards Bay, Wareham's Department of Natural Resources sent two officers to check it out. They determined that the sunfish wasn't hurt of stranded, and after its dramatic visit, the fish had vacated the area by the next day.
Whether you spot it from the shore or your boat, seeing a sunfish is rarely a reason to contact law enforcement. Despite their size, the fish aren't dangerous: Their most aggressive behavior is spitting up seawater.
[h/t The New York Times]