Surfing has been universally accepted as a cool sport since Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze jumped on boards in the early ’90s. It is a fun sport, and we’ve seen numerous innovations on it over the years. However, two depraved and uneducated men decided to use a whale shark, a species that is considered vulnerable by IUCN, as a living surf board.
How this seemed like a good idea is baffling. While whale sharks are incredibly docile and non-aggresive, they can grow to 40 feet, and weigh in at 20 tons. Even a slight reaction by a whale shark can be major trouble for anyone near it, let alone ON it. This level of interaction can effect feeding patterns, prevent movement that is vital to the shark breathing, and damage the sharks mucous layer and the debris the acts as a food source for other fish. During the assault, you can clearly see the whale submerge to shake off the offenders, only to be hijacked again once it surfaced. The video prompted a furious backlash from conservationists, as well as the general public. The London-based wildlife group Marine Connection quickly published the video in hopes of identifying the men so they can be “brought to justice.”
They continued their condemnation in a call for action and protection. “Wildlife harassment is never a laughing matter,” it said. “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.” The group added: “As whale sharks are protected – the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Red List of Threatened Species lists the whale shark as vulnerable – these guys should be charged.” This incident will certainly bring attention to the whale sharks, and the danger to their ecosystem and very survival, so there is a possible silver lining. Our oceans are under enough stress without idiots that lack a conscience further harassing sharks. Hopefully the men are found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
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