Teen Rides Whale Shark off Gulf of Mexico in a Once in a Lifetime Experience [Video]
A Fort Myers teen caught a once-in-a-lifetime ride on a whale shark on Sunday when it swan by his family's boat.
Chris Kreis, 19-years old, was fishing with his family in the Gulf of Mexico when they spotted the whale shark.
After someone on the boat stated that he would probably never be able to see a whale shark again in his life, Chris quickly made the decision to ride it.
He jumped into the water, grabbed the shark’s fin and rode it for a total of nine seconds. “It went through my mind, yeah. I might not be able to do it again, so I did it,” Kreis said. “It was incredible.”
Kreis described his ride on the whale shark, "When I started holding on I felt the whale shark it started moving itself, it felt the drag and it didn't really want me on there so I let go and that's it."
Whale sharks are known as the gentle giants of the sea and are about the size of a school bus. They hold the distinction of being the ocean’s largest fish and feed mostly on plankton.
"It's massive. It's at least 30 feet long. It's at least the size of the boat," Kreis said.
But Marine biologist Bruce Neill said it could have hurt both Kreis and the shark.
"Kreis could have been hurt if the shark had attacked," Neill said. "And the shark could have lost some of the slimy skin that keeps it healthy."
"When people spend a lot of time and put a lot of pressure on a fish, it takes away that slime covering and potentially has negative health impacts for the fish," Neill says.
Kreis told NBC Miami that if he had known about the potential harms, he would have taken precautions.
"If I had known about that, I would have probably just swam with it and not touched it. But since I didn't really know, I kind of feel bad," Kreis said. "But again, it was a once in a lifetime experience."
Chris Kreis is getting mixed feelings on the video posted on YouTube as well. Some comments believe Kreis was just living in the moment, while others agree with the Marine Biologist and believe it was wrong in riding the whale shark.
The1bigbouncer commented, "That's something he will never forget. I don't see any problem with what he did. No one harmed and the whale shark was not bothered by it."
jmilsrt4 say they would have done the same thing, "I would do the same thing if I had the chance. The shark probably barely noticed him at all. To say it stressed the shark and alters the behavior is laughable. It was a 5 second encounter that the kid will never forget."
Robert Hueter wrote, "Congratulations on your encounter with the world's largest fish. Please know that touching, much less riding, a whale shark is discouraged for the health of the fish and the swimmers' safety. Please maintain a distance of 6 feet from the shark and keep your boat at a safe distance. Many whale sharks bear the scars of strikes from boats. With these guidelines in mind, enjoy the beauty and grace of these magnificent animals! Dr. Bob Hueter, Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory."
Riding a whale shark
Once in a lifetime opportunity! This whale shark was spotted 30nm west of Captiva, Fl in approximately 80' of water. No harm was done to this shark.