Fishermen swim alongside 50-foot whale shark off Boca Raton

BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - Two boaters off the coast of Boca Raton had a rare encounter with a whale shark, Sunday, and decided to go for a swim alongside the 50-foot animal.

Kevin Craig and Wyatt Warren were out fishing when, they said, they noticed something unusual in the water. “Something sticking out of the water, and we looked over,” Craig said.

Warren thought it might have been a log.

“Couldn’t tell what it was,” Craig said, “so we went over and checked it out, and the closer we looked, we could see a bunch of spots on the back and figured out it was a whale shark.”

The 50-foot shark dove away initially, but when it came back, they knew what they had to do.

“Mine and his first reaction was to get in the water,” Warren said. “So we jumped in the water with the GoPro.”

The two boaters swam alongside the massive shark, capturing close-up footage. “We were literally swimming next to it, and he was doing his own thing, minding his own business,” Warren said.

Craig swam up even closer to the shark so he could go for a ride.

“When I actually grabbed on to it, ’cause the guys on the boat were like, ‘Grab the dorsal fin, go for a ride,’ and I was like, ‘All right,'” Craig said.

They posted the GoPro video on social media, where it has been viewed thousands of times.

“Island Water Sports posted the video yesterday, and I looked at it, and it was like a thousand views,” Warren said, “This morning, when I looked at it there was 25,000 views, so this is an unreal experience for me.”

Spotting a whale shark off of Florida is not unheard of, but it is rare.

“I talked to a couple other people, and they said the last time that someone had seen one around here was 2011 or 2012,” Craig said. “Just to be right out here in Boca, in front of our house, in 150 feet of water, seeing a creature like that, it was pretty cool.”

One of the fishermen said he saw a whale shark off the Bahamas a couple of years ago. He said this felt like getting struck by lightning twice.

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.