Watch: Captain catches ride on fish ‘as big as a boat’

Posted at 8:44 AM, Jun 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-18 08:44:30-04

SARASOTA, Fla. (CNN) — A Florida boater caught the ride of a lifetime on a very large fish.

It was caught on camera — and a few other swimmers got in on the action, too.

As a charter captain Jamie Bostwick is on the water nearly every day, but on June 13, he spotted a whale shark — the largest fish in the world.

“That fish was as big as a boat, 30 feet long,” Bostwick said.

“The whale shark basically came right to us, yeah, it was as curious about us as we were about it,” he added.

Swimming with a whale shark was one Bostwick’s life goals, so he jumped in, grabbed the whale shark’s fin and hung on for the ride.

When asked if he was ever scared, Bostwick was certain.

“Never, never, that’s one of the most docile animals I’ve ever come across,” he said.

The whale shark is a plankton eater, and is not threatening to humans.

“They can’t hurt you but we can hurt them with too much contact,” said Dr. Bob Hueter, shark expert with the Center for Shark Research.

The creatures are protected, meaning they cannot be caught, molested or harassed. While it’s OK to swim with whale sharks from about 6 feet away, Hueter does not recommend touching them, although it’s not illegal.

“The problem with touching them is they have a mucous layer on the skin that is disturbed when touched too much it can compromise the health of the animal in the long run,” Hueter said.

But it appeared as though the whale shark was enjoying its time with the captain as much as Bostwick was.

“It could have left, could have dove down, we were in 60 feet of water,” he said.

Instead, Bostwick said the whale shark swam with three other swimmers and stuck around for about 20 minutes.