Mola mola becomes Internet celebrity after photographed off California

Daniel Botelho filmed the elusive animal while on a blue whale odyssey

Some strange-looking things have been spotted in California, but an alien-like sea creature may be on the top of the list and its gaining some fame online.

The animal is called an ocean sunfish, but is more commonly known as a Mola mola. It's the heaviest known bony fish in the world weighing on average 1,000 kg and has a fish head and flattened body. The Monterey Bay Aquarium describes them as looking "like the invention of a mad scientist."

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And like most people in California, it's becoming a bit of an Internet celebrity because if its looks. Award-winning photojournalist Daniel Botelho snapped some photos of the fish in 2010, but just posted one to his Facebook page last week and the photo already has thousands of likes.

Botelho told GrindTV he snapped the photo while on a blue whale photography mission, but put the image in a folder of non-used images. He found the image while planning another blue whale odyssey.

"It's so funny, I wasted that image and after two years I found it, posted it, and it becomes viral," he said to GrindTV.

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Molas may appear to be large and sluggish, but people have difficulty photographing them because they are swift and don't like people getting close to them.

"There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast," he said to GrindTV. "But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner."

The photographer in the picture was hoping to get a shot of Botelho next to the sunfish, but instead the opposite happened.

People seeing the photo on Facebook are quite impressed with the image.

"I remember seeing an illustration of one of these when I was 15 or 16 years old and wanted to be a marine biologist at the time. I'm so happy to see an actual picture of one," writes Shelly Bornemann on Facebook.

Anglers spotted them while on a fishing trip in the Santa Monica Bay a few days ago:

(Daniel Botelho Facebook photo)

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