Dog Days of Summer
Welcome to August, and the dog days of summer are certainly here! We're heading into the 90's which isn't atypical for Maine this time of year. As a kid I remember getting one solid week of this kind of heat every year. No one had air conditioning, so we just buckled down a tried to sleep through it. If you were fortunate enough to have a lot of tree cover on your house, you could employ "Maine air conditioning" which meant closing all the windows and shades during the day, and then opening them all up every night to (hopefully) let some cooler air back it. So days and nights were more successful than others.
For our mid-day Captain Joe's Cruises, this often means abandoning the upper river portion of the tour and making a break for the open ocean where temperatures can be 10-20 degrees cooler. We will take a nice roundabout trip of the lighthouse at Wood Island, or maybe a ride up into the Pool in Biddeford, and keeping an eye out for seals, porpoises, or this big guy we stumbled upon last week, the ocean sunfish, aka the Mola mola!
These fish can get HUGE. An average sunfish will weigh in at about 2,200 pounds, but that doesn't slow them down much. They can swim over 12 miles a day and dive down to 3000' in cold water. Their favorite meals as adults? Jellyfish! They've adapted to their intestines to survive the stings, and they can suck their oversized eyeballs back into their sockets for protection.
Why do they hang out at the surface? It turns out these fish are loaded with parasites. They hang out up top trying to dislodge the little buggers, and even inviting birds to come help clean them off. Their tendency to bask at the surface on their side is what gave them their nickname of sunfish in the first place.
You can read more about these fascinating fish at oceansunfish.org where they have some great pictures and videos of these beautiful and very odd looking fish!