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Divers Try To Pin Down Wild Whale Shark For A Selfie

What were they thinking? 😱

The shark desperately tried to swim away — but a group of divers had him surrounded.

One person straddled his back as two others held his fins down. Another person gripped onto the animal’s tail as he struggled to swim.

The group waved and beckoned toward the camera, giving the “OK” signal. The divers appeared to be with a tour company, but it’s clear they weren’t being watched very closely.

This was the frustrating scene recently caught on camera in Cenderawasih Bay National Park in Indonesia. It’s since gone viral — and thousands online have spoken out against the swimmers’ behavior.

Whale sharks are endangered, but they’re often harassed by swimmers and boaters who take advantage of their giant size and gentle temperaments to have an “up close” encounter with the animals. These encounters can be highly stressful for the animals and dangerous for both the sharks and humans (who can be injured by the sharks’ sudden movements).

whale shark dive
A whale shark swimming in the wild | Shutterstock

Whale sharks must also swim continuously with their mouths open in order to breathe, and many swimmers impede the sharks’ motion when they try to interact with them. In this video, the divers kept the docile animal nearly motionless for at least 22 seconds as he struggled to escape their grasp.

“Outrageous and cruel!” one commenter noted. “I have never witnessed such disgraceful behavior. They should be named and shamed by their local diving community.”

The video ends before the shark is shown swimming away, making his fate all but uncertain. As adults, whale sharks grow to be massive, and can measure up to 33 feet long. This one was likely only a juvenile.

The divers have since been identified and arrested for the incident. It’s not yet clear what penalties they could face.

Cassandra Tania, marine species officer at WWF Indonesia, told the Jakarta Post that the tour guide’s lack of interference during the incident was very concerning.

“They [whale sharks] are also large in size, which could be dangerous if they accidentally bump into humans,” she said.

Most often, however, it’s the humans who pose a much larger risk to the animals.

To help protect wild whale sharks, you can make a donation to Sea Shepherd.