FORT MYERS, Florida — A 19-year-old Florida man rode a whale shark in the Gulf of Mexico last week and posted the video on You Tube.
Although not illegal, Chris Kreis told NBC-2 that he “would jump in if I saw one again, but next time I wouldn’t touch the fish.”
Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean. They can grow to 50 feet, weigh 40 tons, and live up to 100 years. The filter-feeders are commonly affable and allow divers to interact with them, according to NOAA.
Although Florida is well known for thrilling rides at its theme park, harassing marine animals have become an impromptu amusement lately in the Sunshine State. Last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission opened an investigation after video of a man cannon balling on a manatee in Cocoa Beach, Florida surfaced on Facebook.
In another incident, a Fort Pierce, Florida man was arrested for allegedly harassing or disturbing a manatee calf in Taylor Creek in St. Lucie County back in in January after photos of him hugging the sea cow were posted on Facebook.
Last September, a woman was photographed riding a manatee at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, Florida. The woman contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s department after the photos were made the news, but was not immediately arrested because authorities said it was an arrestable offense since the manatee harassment did not occur in a deputy’s presence. She was later arrested and charged in November 2012.
But on a lighter note, a Florida lifeguard actually saved a beached shark by pulling it back into the Atlantic Ocean with his bare hands in May.
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