A Florida teen went for a wild ride last week, in what may become one of the hottest topics of the month following his joyride on the backside of a 50,000 pound whale shark.
Florida native, the 19-year-old Chris Kreis was in the boat off Captiva Island fishing in the Gulf of Mexico when a whale shark the size of the 30-foot boat he was in swam up alongside him and his friend.
“It was my opportunity, I’m a big fan of sharks,” said Kreis. “And it’s the biggest there is, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I first saw him.”
The risky-shark-fan explained: “I decided, you know what, maybe I should go try and swim with him. I might not be able to do it ever again.”
Kreis promptly jumped off the fishing boat and onto the shark’s back, grabbing hold of its dorsal fin and briefly “riding” the fish until it began to descend.
“He began to descend, and if something doesn’t want you on it, you might as well just let it go,” he said.
In general the whole Kreis’ ride was about 20 seconds, later he decided he should probably let go. Meanwhile, his friend took a video they later posted on YouTube.
According to the National Geographic, whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea reaching lengths of 40 feet or more. Despite their fierce name and appearance, they mostly feed on plankton and small fish.
However, while whale sharks may be considered the gentle giants of the ocean, Kreis said he spotted two bull sharks, the most aggressive and dangerous kind of shark, swimming in the area, prompting him to swim back to the boat “really quickly.”
Last year, a Florida woman, Ana Gutierrez was photographed at Florida’s Fort Desoto Beach riding a manatee, which lead to her being arrested and charged with violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
William Waterman was arrested in February after police spotted photos he had posted on Facebook holding a manatee in Florida. Hugging, touching or harassing protected manatees is illegal in Florida.
Even though whale sharks are not an endangered or protected species; however, while Kreis broke no laws in riding it, marine biologist Bruce Neill argues it wasn’t really a good idea, writes Nature World News.
“When people spend a lot of time and pressure on a fish it takes away a slime that covers the fish,” he explained. “They need that layer to stay healthy.”
Kreis boasted on Facebook last week that his encounter with the critter was an “unbelievable experience.”
When interviewed about it by NBC later, the 19-year-old confessed that he had no idea that his actions could be harmful to the animal’s health.
“I would jump in if I saw one again, but next time I wouldn’t touch the fish,” Kreis promised.
Kreis, an avid shark fan says he helps with the research side of sharks by tagging the animals and supplying the migration info to NOAA for their studies, reports Examiner.
“I latched onto it and he took me on a nice little 8-second ride which was absolutely magnificent,” said Kreis.
Kreis’ YouTube video has drawn more than 100,000 views since he posted it on Wednesday.