YouTube user WFF0001 recently posted the above video of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) making an appearance at the Guy Harvey sponsored Bimini Big Game Club Billfish Invitational. The video features some free-divers “hitching a ride” on the shark by hanging on to the shark’s dorsal and caudal fins.
Similar videos in the past have generated debate centered around the “no-touch” philosophy of diving. Some argue that whale sharks don’t appear to be bothered by swimmers and divers “hitching a ride,” based on the fact that the animals don’t immediately try to leave the area when this kind of activity occurs. While whale sharks are also listed as a “vulnerable” species on the IUCN Red List, those with the “no harm, no foul” philosophy that point out that whale sharks are not in any danger of being injured by people “hitching a ride.”
The other side of the argument is that the whale sharks don’t really have a say in the matter and can’t express whether or not they’re bothered by people “riding” them.
If you have an opinion on the “riding whale sharks” debate, feel free to share it in the comments section.