Total Jerks Use Shark As Living Surfboard
A video making the rounds shows two stupid swimmers trying to "surf" on a whale shark.
In the footage, the two men hold onto a rope and are towed behind a boat as they attempt to balance on the giant fish. The whale shark submerges below the water after a few moments, seemingly trying to shake his unwelcome passengers off.
Shortly after, he pops back up and one man gets right back on top, standing on his head while his companions in the boat laugh and cheer him on.
The decision to harass a whale shark like this is baffling for a number of reasons. Whale sharks are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and interacting with them can interfere with natural behaviors such as feeding, or halt the constant movement that's necessary for them to preserve their oxygen supply.
They also have a protective mucous layer on their skin that can be disturbed by human contact.
Toying with whale sharks could also pose risks to humans. Whale sharks are quite gentle and eat only plankton, but at up to 40 feet and 20 tons, a sudden movement on their part could be bad news for any people near them.
Unfortunately, though, stunts like these aren't uncommon. Just this week a video surfaced of a man "riding" a whale shark off the Florida coast; another circulated the week before. Last month, two more people were filmed near Florida hanging onto a whale shark's dorsal fin.
However, while it's illegal - in the U.S. at least - to ride, feed or similarly harass whales and dolphins, whale sharks are excluded from these protections because they're classified as fish.
"My hope is that one day sharks will be elevated to that same level of protection as marine mammals," Eric Hovland, associate curator at the Florida Aquarium, told Florida's Bay News 9 earlier this week.
"What a sad reflection on their attitude to wildlife when, instead of considering themselves fortunate to see this majestic creature in the wild, they choose to participate in a stupid stunt like this," the group said.
"Wonder if they would have done this with a great white shark," they added.
You can watch the full video below.