A COMMERCIAL fisherman made a rare discovery when he spotted this strange fish off Bournemouth.

Paul Oliver, from Highcliffe, saw the sunfish, which was around the size of a dust bin lid, while out on a boat at around 1pm on Friday, August 3.

Paul said he saw the fish off Southbourne beach and it appeared to be making its way towards the Isle of Wight.

He said: “It was happily swimming around the boat. They lay on their side and we could see this fin coming out of the water. It was just a bizarre thing.”

It is not the first time Paul has seen eye-catching marine life, he has previously seen Triggerfish and jellyfish off Dorset.

Sunfish, also known as molas, are native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe and are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.

They can live for up to 10 years and mostly eat small fish, larvae, squid and a small amount of jellyfish and salp.

According to National Geographic, they develop their "truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows”.

Sarah Hodgson, seasonal engagement assistant at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “We do receive occasional reports of sunfish off the Dorset coast each year but not very often. Sunfish are the heaviest bony fish in the world and can reach sizes of up to four metres!

“However, the ones we see off our coast tend to be a bit smaller, usually around the size of a dust bin lid.”

As reported in the Daily Echo last month, an undulate ray attracted a crowd of onlookers when it was spotted on the shoreline at Branksome.

Sarah added: “We are always keen to hear about interesting marine wildlife sightings, so please get in touch and let us know what you’ve seen. “

To contact the Dorset Wildlife Trust, call 01929 481044 or email kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.