Sarasota, Florida (WTSP) -- A Sarasota boater caught the ride of a lifetime while swimming out in the water near Venice last week.
James Bostwick posted video to his Facebook page showing him grabbing onto a whale shark and letting the gentle giant take him for a ride!
Unlike the time when a woman made national headlines after she jumped on the back of a manatee a few years ago, Bostwick's trip on the whale shark is not illegal.
Whale sharks are "not dangerous for a boater," Mote Marine scientist Dr. Bob Huetertold us in a 2010 interview. "As a matter of fact, the whale sharks are very gentle, very graceful, even though they're 30 feet long or so. But they can be very curious and they can come up alongside a boat. A lot of people have been going out to swim with them."
Dr. Hueter says that while it is not against the law to swim and touch whale sharks, he still advises against it, because it can interfere with their feeding.
There've been several whale shark sightings in the waters of Tampa Bay recently. Below are pictures from a whale shark spotted last month near Anna Maria Island:
Mote scientists ask that anyone who spots a whale shark in the waters of Tampa Baycall its Center for Shark Research at (941) 388-1827 or email them email@example.com.
Scientists want spotters to note the number of sharks, the time, date and location. Scientists are looking for possible patterns to their movements in local waters.
Whale sharks are rare, but not protected under federal or state law.