Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Video: Florida Fisherman Jumps in Water to Ride Whale Shark

Chris Kries swims with Whale Shark in Florida
According to the descriptions in two videos posted by Limited Out Fishing, this whale shark was spotted on June 8, 2013 approximately 30 nautical miles off Captiva, Florida.

The fishing crew was heading offshore when they noticed a large marine animal with its tail out of the water and swimming quickly.  When they pulled up next to it, they identified it as a whale shark and estimated its size at around 28 feet.  They noted that it was swimming in about 75 to 80 feet of water.

While the boat was next to the whale shark, one of the individuals jumped into the water and swam over to it and grabbed it by its dorsal fin. To the delight of the others on the boat, he rode the shark for about ten seconds and then released it and swam back to the boat.  The following was stated in the video description: "No harm was done to this shark!"

It needs to be noted that although whale sharks are fish, whales are covered under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act which protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) within the waters of the United States. The Act makes it illegal to "take" marine mammals without a permit. It defines “take” to mean “to hunt, harass, capture, or kill” any marine mammal or attempt to do so.  As shown in this recent Florida news article from February 2013, violators may be subject to enforcement action by NOAA, "NOAA Slaps Warning on Florida Man Who Rode Whale"

With that said, congrats to LimitedOutFishing for being so fortunate to have this amazing visit by such a wondrous marine creature.  But please, if one is lucky enough to have this type of marine encounter in the future, please follow the advise as provided by Dr. Bob Hueter, Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, in the comment section of the video posting:  "Please know that touching, much less riding, a whale shark is discouraged for the health of the fish and the swimmers' safety. Please maintain a distance of 6 feet from the shark and keep your boat at a safe distance. Many whale sharks bear the scars of strikes from boats."

One last point, as we post this video, it currently has around 100 views.  Something tells us that this one will go viral.  Time will tell.

NOTE:  On 06/13, Chris Kries (the gentleman who swam with the fish) gave an interview to NBC2 News Florida.  The interview can be viewed below the Youtube video. It may take a few seconds to load.

Photo is screenshot from video. WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral