While some have asserted that swimming with whale sharks could prove dangerous for the massive fish, it is not illegal to do so in Florida.

Florida Teens Hitch A Ride On A Whale Shark

A group of Florida teens made headlines on Monday after video emerged of them swimming with a whale shark, catching a ride on the back of the massive fish off the coast of Destin.

Cody Garland was cobia fishing with a group of friends when he spotted the whale shark, according to the Huffington Post. When they first observed it, the whale shark was swimming peacefully near East Beach, and the teens decided to enter the water in order to swim with it. Garland’s girlfriend, MicKayla Burke, also swam with the whale shark, according to ABC 7, holding on to the massive fish by its tail.

Garland noted that he had seen whale sharks before in the region, though it is unclear if he had ever attempted to ride one in the past.

“I like whale sharks,” he observed. “I don’t think they could hurt you if they wanted to… we just didn’t stand near his mouth. I fish just about every day and that was the third whale shark I’ve ever seen off Destin.”

Earlier this month, a fisherman in Australia made headlines when he entered the ocean to swim with a juvenile whale shark that had approached the charter boat he was captaining. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the whale shark remained in the area around the boat for five hours, quickly becoming old news to guests aboard the vessel, who had gone to bed by the time the captain entered the water. Though whale sharks are docile and largely incapable of injuring humans, the crew had observed a tiger shark, which can inflict lethal damage, in the same spot earlier that day.

While whale sharks are listed as a vulnerable species and are one of 25 types of shark protected in Florida, it remains legal to catch them in the Sunshine State as long as they are released. Some researchers have previously noted that swimming with a whale shark could potentially have negative health consequences for the fish, yet it is not illegal in Florida to do so.

[Image: Cody Garland/ WEAR via KSPR]

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