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Charter Boat Captain Swims with Whale Shark Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream

Man Swims with Whale Shark

A boater in Florida caught the ride of his lifetime on a huge whale shark.

James Robert Bostwick posted a video of his whale shark ride on his Facebook page June 6 with a caption that read he can now check this off his bucket list. Bostwick also wrote it was the first time he had ever seen a whale shark despite being a charter captain and on the water nearly every day.

The video shows Bostwick swimming in the water and grabbing a back fin of the fish, who then pulls him through the water. As he's being carried away from the boat, he turns and flashes a thumbs-up sign.

While a whale shark is a plankton eater and not threatening to humans, the video still caused a stir from people who thought the 30-foot-long animal was being hurt, but the stunt was not illegal, reports TV station WTSP.

Bob Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory says whale sharks are protected and they are protected and cannot be caught, molested or harassed. While he says it's OK to swim with them from about 6 feet away, he doesn't recommend touching them although it's not illegal.

"They can't hurt you, but we can hurt them with too much contact," Hueter told WTSP. "The problem with touching them is they have a mucous layer on the skin that is disturbed when touched, (so) too much it can compromise the health of the animal in the long run."

Bostwick said the shark was with him and 3 other people for about 20 minutes.

He says, "The whale shark was as curious about us as we were about it."

He said this was one of the most special things he could have done in the water. "(I'm the) very lucky one of the luckiest guys out on the water," he said.

Man Swims with Whale Shark

Charter boat captain grabs hold of a whale shark off Nokomis Beach, Florida and fulfills a life-long dream.

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