While most people see a giant shark and swim away as fast as they can, 19-year-old Chris Kreis hopped in the water with the 50,000 pound whale shark he and his friend saw swimming next to their boat.
Despite its behemoth size, the whale shark does not eat or attack people. It has no relation to a whale, but is the world’s largest shark and fish. The creature is a gentle giant that eats tiny plankton and the occasional small fish that gets stuck in its massive filter-feeding mouth.
Kreis and his friend spotted the whale shark while fishing 30 miles off the coast of Captiva, Florida, and decided it would be a good idea to jump in and ride it.
“When I started holding on I felt the whale shark it started moving itself, it felt the drag and it didn’t really want me on there so I let go and that’s it,” Kreis told NBC2.
While neither man nor shark were injured in the encounter, the adventurous ride has prompted debate in the scientific community about the risks of riding marine creatures — for the fish.
“When people spend a lot of time and pressure on a fish it takes away a slime that covers the fish. They need that layer to stay healthy. Losing it potentially has negative health impacts for the fish,” explains marine biologist Bruce Neill in an interview with NBC2.
After thinking about the consequences of his actions, Kreis says, “I would jump in if I saw one again, but next time I wouldn’t touch the fish.”
There will be no slime for Kreis next time.
WATCH KREIS RIDE SHARK: