World famous surfer and free-diver Mark Healey is being hailed a “fish whisperer” after “doing the lord’s work” and ridding an “alien” fish of some pesky parasites.
Healey earned his praise today (Oct. 1) after he posted a video of a hilariously heartwarming encounter with an ocean sunfish on Instagram. The footage shows the strange-looking creature surfacing next to Healey’s boat, and it was covered in pests. So he grabbed a long bristled brush and began scrubbing them off.
The creature stuck around to let its new friend finish the job while one of Healey’s friends captured the moment on camera.
In the caption, the diver explained that sunfish, also known as Mola Mola, often come to the surface and lay on their sides so seagulls will eat parasites off of them. And that’s what that particular fish was attempting to do. But it was lucky enough to find Healy instead, and he did it one better.
“Thought I’d hook bradda up,” he wrote. “It kept coming back for more and could’ve probably done it all day. Those parasites are pretty buried in there, but I think I made a little headway with the boat brush.”
The footage shows Healey removing a cluster of worms, which brings the fish closer to the boat to make the chore easier.
“Maybe I do like that,” Healey laughs as it shows visible appreciation.
One of the boat mates can be heard in the background saying, “look at that thing, it’s an alien.”
“It’s a cool moment when human and non-human earthlings connect,” fellow surfer Mike Stewart commented.
The ‘Alien Fish’ is a Gentle Giant Native to Tropical Waters
Ocean Sunfish are massive and gentle creatures that live in warm, tropical waters. They get their out-of-this-world reputation due to their massive and flat builds with truncated tail sections. Sunfish can weigh up to 5,000 pounds, which makes them the heaviest known bony fish in the world.
The creatures live off of squid, jellyfish, and algae, and in return, over 40 different parasitic species live off of them, including roundworms, flatworms, shark tapeworms, and sea lice. And they not only rely on gulls to remove the parasite, but also on other fish.
Divers are familiar with sunfish because the curious creatures tend to swim alongside them in the water. But they are also skittish because their build makes them helpless to predators. While they can live into their 20s, they are often killed before reaching that age. Humans are a major threat to the fish as well. Because they move through the ocean at such a slow speed, they often get hit by boats or killed by fishing gear.
Unfortunately, the mix of threats has depleted the sunfish population. And according to National Geographic, the species is currently listed as vulnerable.