The presence of whale sharks along the coast of East Java, Indonesia are causing an increase in local tourism. The migration patterns of the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) take them through the area between January and March, and locals are paying up to 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah (which amounts to about $0.53 US, according to the NTD World News report) for boat trips taking them in close proximity of the sharks.
While it’s great to see a positive interest in these animals, the interview with one of the tourists about her fears towards being near a “shark” (despite it being a filter feeder) is indicative of some of the common misconceptions that are out there when it comes to sharks, in general. Then again, the fact that the news anchor referred to the fish as “mammals” might serve as a better example of the lack of understanding towards these animals. My only other major complaint with the report is that the “tour guide” featured in the video is shown apparently attempting to ride a whale shark.
While the report might be a be off on a few “facts,” it’s good to see a generally positive shark story in the news. It’s even more refreshing to hear the sharks referred to as “friendly fish.”