Two men have landed in hot water after a video of them “surfing” on the back of a whale shark while being pulled along by a boat was posted online.
In the clip (below), the unidentified men can be seen holding a rope as they stand on top of the rare creature before it headed back down under the waves, according to the Daily Mail.
Conservationists have reacted angrily to the video and are now calling for those involved to be prosecuted.
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The men were criticized by London-based Marine Connection, which posted the footage on their Facebook page, calling their stunt “stupid and arrogant.”
“What a sad reflection on their attitude to wildlife when, instead of considering themselves fortunate to see this majestic creature in the wild, they choose to participate in a stupid stunt like this (wonder if they would have done this with a great white shark?),” they said. “As whale sharks are protected... these guys should be charged.”
It is unclear where the video was taken, but the group believes it may have been filmed in Venezuela.
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Whale sharks are considered to be the largest fish in the world, growing to about 40 feet in length. They are listed internationally as a protected species, and recognized as vulnerable and pose no threat to humans, according to the Daily Mirror.
Found in tropical and warm oceans, whale sharks have large mouths and — as filter feeders — their diet consists mainly of plankton.