The crew on a charter fishing boat off South Carolina got a rare treat last month when it spotted a whale shark.
Whale sharks can grow to more than 40 feet long and weigh 20 tons, according to National Geographic. “Although massive, whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride,” National Geographic reports.
Michael Krivohlavek, 21, was the mate on the charter fishing boat and caught the video on October 14. “This whale shark popped up behind us,” Krivohlavek said by phone Monday.
“He was very interested in the boat,” he said, and “did a couple circles around the boat” to check it out.
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Krivohlavek said the boat was about 36 miles off Charleston in 150 feet of water.
He said he’s seen whale sharks in Mexico, but never off South Carolina. “It’s pretty rare,” he said.
Krivohlavek estimated the shark was 20 to 25 feet long.
Whale sharks are more common further south in warmer waters, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources marine biologist told WPDE. Bryan Frazier told the television station, “We don’t really have enough reports to know when they pass through, but they likely prefer warmer waters.”
Whale sharks are found around the world in tropical areas, according to National Geographic. The species is listed as endangered, but they are still hunted in some parts of Asia, National Geographic reports.
Frazier said whale shark sightings are “somewhat rare” in South Carolina, according to WPDE.