Wildlife volunteers rescue stranded ocean sunfish in Bourne bay, fourth reported near Cape this week

A team of volunteers rescued a stranded Mola mola, an ocean sunfish, from a bay off the Cape Cod Canal on Monday, one day after another of the heavy tropical fish died during low tide, the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance said.

“Great effort by one and all. After all the stranding[s] we have responded to, it is nice to get one out alive!” the alliance said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

The rescue of the ocean sunfish came during a seasonal spike in often-fatal strandings for the species. The incidents occur during low tides throughout smaller bodies of water off Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and around the Cape.

A team of NECWA volunteers was first able to keep one of the unfortunate ocean sunfish from stranding in such a trap after it was located Sunday in Buttermilk Bay. And after it was found back in Little Buttermilk Bay early Monday, the crew returned to try and rescue it for good, NECWA president Carol “Krill” Carlson said in a telephone interview.

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“It was high and dry” around 15 feet from water, she said. “We raced over there in our kayaks, and I just jumped out and grabbed it.”

“This poor thing didn’t know what was happening to it, you should have seen the look on its face,” she said.

Carlson said the rescue team, which also included a Wareham animal control officer and harbormaster, was eventually able to attach a strap to the fish, which Carlson estimated to weigh more than 600 pounds and resembled “a big pancake.”

The fish was then attached to the harbormaster’s boat, and towed to freedom in the Cape Cod Canal by 3 p.m.

The successful Monday rescue was preceded by a less fortunate incident Sunday, when another sunfish became trapped in Little Buttermilk Bay. While five NECWA volunteers worked throughout the day to save it, the fish died…

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