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Teen seen on camera riding whale shark off Southwest Florida

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Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013 12:41 pm | Updated: 4:41 pm, Fri Jun 13, 2014.

SARASOTA - A Ft. Myers teen got more of a ride than he probably bargained for while out boating off of Captiva this weekend.

Chris Kreis says last Saturday, while he was thirty miles offshore, he saw a thirty foot long whale shark. So what did he do?  His friend rolled video while he jumped in and tried to go for a ride. “I decided, you know what, maybe I should go try and swim with him. I might not be able to do it ever again,” said Kreis.

The 19-year old didn't get very far--but this video has gone around the world.

Daredevils may be applauding this stunt off the coast of Southwest Florida, in Sarasota, marine biologists at Mote Marine aren't laughing.

“I thought, ah, not a good thing to do. Please don't do that...certainly not riding them.” Dr. Bob Hueter says whale sharks have tiny teeth and aren't dangerous, but he says their tails can whip you, and they're covered with a slime that helps protect them. “But the main thing is, these fish are feeding; and when you jump on them, you make them dive and take them off their feeding, and it compromises their health.”

Hueter says seing a whale shark near the Suncoast is a once in a lifetime experience. He understands being excited, but asks that next time, people keep at least six feet away from the fish.

 

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