Now You See It: Florida men ride whale shark - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Now You See It: Florida men ride whale shark

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TAMPA, FL (WTSP/CNN) - As a charter captain, Jamie Bostwick is on the water nearly every day. But last Friday, he spotted a fish that has given him a whale of a story to tell. Jamie and his friends saw the largest fish in the world: a whale shark.

"That fish was as big as a boat; 30 feet long!' Bostwick said. "The whale shark basically came right to us, it was as curious about us as we were about it."

And swimming with one has been on Jamie's bucket list, so he jumped in, grabbed the shark's fin and hung on for the ride.
"Just because they're such a majestic, large animal," he said.

Jamie says he was not scared because they're docile animals.

The whale shark is a plankton eater, not threatening to humans. "They can't hurt you, but we can hurt them with too much contact," Dr. Bob Hueter with the Center for Shark Research says. The Mote Marine shark expert says whale sharks are protected. They cannot be caught, molested, or harassed. And while he says it's ok to swim with them from about six feet away, he doesn't recommend touching them, though it's not illegal.

"The problem with touching them is they have a mucous layer on the skin that is disturbed when touched too much it can compromise the health of the animal in the long run. It could have left, could have dove down, we were in 60 feet of water," he explains.

Instead, Jamie says the whale shark swam with three other people and stuck around for about 20 minutes. He says he thinks their encounter was fate, saying that it is number one or two on his bucket list.

Copyright 2014 WTSP via CNN. All rights reserved.


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