Christina Wolfgram
May 13, 2015 3:15 pm

This weekend, a group of teenagers were fishing off the coast of Destin, Florida when they spotted a whale shark. Ignoring any and all lessons he learned from watching Shark Week, Cody Garland swam to the giant fish and held onto its fin for twenty-second ride. His friends whooped and hollered and, of course, got it on video.

Garland played it cool during an interview with Wear, saying, “I like whale sharks. I don’t think they could hurt you if they wanted to. We just didn’t stand near its mouth.” This dude must be some kind of shark whale whisperer, because being that close to a humongous underwater creature sounds terrifying.

According to National Geographic, whale sharks are actually the biggest fish in the ocean (because, remember, regular whales are mammals, not fish). They are carnivorous, weigh about 20 tons, and grow to the length of a school bus. So, basically, Garland popping a squat on that whale shark’s fin was the equivalent of taking a seat on a school bus that normally fits your whole neighborhood in it. Wow.

Though whale sharks’ crazy massiveness could potentially drown people who swim up to them—getting caught under the fish would be a big problem—there’s very little chance that a whale shark would take a bite out of a human. They actually prefer to eat plankton.

Garland’s daring dance with the whale shark is certainly entertaining, but bothering sea creatures can be dangerous for wildlife. People were riding manatees so often that Florida worried about the health implications and made the act illegal—if Garland had posted a video of himself riding a manatee, he could have been charged with 60 days in prison. While there are no similar laws about catching a ride on a whale shark, the Internet has been debating whether there should be.

What do you think? Is Garland’s video harmful or just hilarious?

(Images via here, here, and here.)

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