A Fort Myers, Fla., teen had a once in a lifetime experience when he swam with a 30-foot whale shark Saturday.
Chris Kreis, 19, was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico when he spotted the whale shark. He jumped in the water, grabbed the shark’s fin and rode it for a few seconds.
"It's massive. It's at least 30 feet long. It's at least the size of the boat," Kreis said.
The shark is estimated to weigh about 50,000 pounds. It is rare to see these sharks, but Kreis was able to swim with it.
"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," Kreis said, describing the ride.
Kreis made the decision to swim with the shark after someone on the boat said that he would probably never get the opportunity to see one again, so he quickly thought about it, and jumped in.
“It went through my mind, yeah. I might not be able to do it again, so I did it,” Kreis said. “It was incredible.”
But not everyone thinks it’s so great. 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.
“It takes away that slime covering and potentially has negative health impacts on the fish,” said Neill.
Kreis said 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."
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