Around July to September, divers from all parts of the worlds flock to Bali to experience the rare Mola Mola season. The time when Bali’s water get colder, luring the jurassic-looking sunfish to get out from their dwell, the twilight zone of the ocean. During these months, the Mola Mola is going up to the shallower water to enjoy their yearly routine—getting parasite removal treatment by the cleaner fish in cleaning station. Occasionally, these big flatten fish will get to the surface, warming up their body by having a pleasant sunbathe. These are the only months of the year when you can swim, snorkel, and dive with this stunning creature, and the demand is high.
However, there is a code of conduct that you need to carefully practice if you wish to meet the Mola Mola. Despite of their giant size and beastly appearance, the Mola Mola is actually very fragile and tender at heart! They could get scared easily, and might result in trauma which impact its survival. We don’t want to push the rare Mola Mola to the verge of extinction. So before you sign up for Mola Mola season excursion in Bali, do pay attention to the code of conduct below.
How Many Diver to Swim with the Mola
Unlike Manta Ray, another highlight in Bali, the Mola Mola tend to show less curious behaviour. They are not particularly fond of air bubbles coming from divers. They love serenity and is quite a solitary animal. Much like cats, actually. Mola Mola season in Bali is actually a tricky time for them. They can be anxious being surrounded by a crowd. Dive with a small group, consisting 2 to 4 people maximum at one dive.
Approaching the Sunfish During Mola Mola Season Bali
When you finally see the Mola Mola, don’t rush. Keep your distance and maintain calm attitude. Divers usually have their best shot when the Mola Mola is spending their time getting cleaned in the cleaning stations. The Mola Mola are usually calmer, entering a shot of comatose state when enjoying their treatment, than when they swim. Slowly dive closer when the Mola has been stationary for at least one minute.
Maintain at least 3 meters distance from the Mola when they are at the cleaning station. If you see them while they are swimming to the reef, maintain at least 10 meter distance.
Swimming with the Sunfish
Whenever you have the chance to swim with the Mola, always swim by their side. Do not swim in front of them as it can block their escape route or their way to the cleaning station. Never swim behind the Mola. This can startle and scare the poor fish. Do not swim under the Mola—your bubbles can disturb their cleaning behaviour. Also, restrict your viewing time to 5 minutes if other groups are present. Sharing is caring!
Never Touch the Skin
On rare occasion, the Mola Mola might be showing interest to you and swim closer. On times when the Mola approach you, remain still and don’t make sudden movement. Never touch their skin, no matter how attempting it feels. The skin contain layer of mucus which protect the Mola from infections.
More on Diving and Travelling:
Photographing the Mola Mola
The Mola Mola season in Bali is a great time to stock up amazing photograph of this flattened fish. But be mindful with your equipment. Don’t use flash to photograph the Mola as it could disturb the fish. They can be startled and jump with scare as the blinding light flashed. Use natural light to capture their movement. Do not get too close in attempt of getting close-up portrait. Also, avoid using any vehicles or equipment that produce unnecessary loud noises. It could disturb the fish.
Be a kind diver to our beloved mola mola, folks!