At first glance, this sunfish looked more like an alien than anything you’d find in the ocean. Photographer Miguel Pereira found the extraordinary animal off the coast of Portugal during a recent expedition and was able to videotape it. Sunfish, also known as Mola mola, are the heaviest bony fish in the world and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Although this specific sunfish may appear huge, it is actually just above average size. Larger sunfish can grow up to 10 feet in length and 14 feet across the fins.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about sunfish other than their size and odd shape is how they produce—or rather, how efficiently they produce. Most fish species produce eggs in large numbers to ensure that at least some of their offspring will survive, but none lay more eggs than the Mola mola. A single female can produce up to 300,000,000 eggs at a time, making this species the most prolific egg producer of any known vertebrate.
Luckily for us, sunfish are about as harmless as large fish can get. They are especially popular among divers for their passivity and behemoth size—but they can occasionally cause damage to small boats.