Porto, Portugal | A photographer and cameraman working for the famous scientific magazine National Geographic, is presumed dead after being swallowed by a giant Mola Mola fish while shooting a documentary off the Portuguese coast.
29-year old Joaquín Álvarez Santos, from Chiclayo in Peru, was shooting underwater images on the pygmy sperm whale with four other divers, when the giant predator appeared.
The massive creature, probably weighting more than 2000 kg (4400 lbs), immediately headed towards the cameraman and effortlessly swallowed him before swimming away.
M. Santos had participated in more than 50 other documentaries for National Geographic over the last seven years, and was considered one of the best underwater photographers in the world.
Another diver, Australian photographer James C. Wyatt, captured some incredible pictures of the scene, just before the terrible incident.
“I saw the giant fish approaching and I thought it would make a great picture,” M. Wyatt told reporters. “I never thought he would attack Joaquín! Sunfishes are usually very docile, and they almost never attack. It all happened so fast, he just disappeared inside the fish’s mouth. I still can’t believe it happened.”
The ocean sunfish or Mola mola, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight between 247 and 1,000 kg (545–2,205 lbs), but some specimens have been known to reach over 2300 kg (5070 lbs).
Sunfishes live on a diet consisting mainly of jellyfish, salps, squid, crustaceans and small fishes, but specimens of greater size have also been known to attack larger preys like sharks, whales of even small fishing boats.
Deliberate attacks on humans are extremely rare, and M. Santos is the first known victim of a Mola Mola since 1987.