I listened to a pretty fun podcast yesterday from the ‘Stuff You Should Know’ guys, and on my six-hour drive I learned all about the process of animal domestication and the criteria needed for a species to be domesticated. There’s six criterium that must be met for a species to be able to be domesticated, and the whale shark could never be broken by humans. The criteria are as follows: ‘Flexible Diet’ (can’t be met), ‘Reasonably Fast Growth Rate’ (Sure, why not), ‘Ability to be Bred in Captivity’ (check!), ‘Pleasant Disposition’ (check, check!), ‘Temperament Which Makes it Unlikely to Panic; (cannot speak to this), and last but not least ‘Modifiable Social Hierarchy’ (probably not). All 6 of those criterium have to be met in order for a species to be capable of domestication, and as you can see the whale shark is obviously disqualified. That however did not stop a bro down in Florida from trying to mount a (harmless) whale shark and ride it for 20-seconds, filming the entire encounter for all the world to see:
The two were fishing for Cobia off of Destin, Florida when the enormous whale shark showed up, and they were afforded a precious few seconds to jump in the water and swim both with and on the shark. Most likely you or I would have done the same. That said, people are pissed at this couple’s actions, so here’s a little back story on the whale shark…
The whale shark has roughly 3,000 teeth, not a single one of which are dangerous to human beings. They’re the biggest fish in the ocean, and that alone is enough of a deterrent from predators. They’re slow moving, they just swallow tiny fish on the reg like whales, and meander around temperate waters looking for the next great place to catch some rays. So naturally people are pretty peeved off that this bro and his gf would hop into the water and ride this whale shark around. The whale shark is also 1 of 25 protected species of shark in Florida waters, so there’s some speculation on the legality of this encounter with the big fish.
— WEAR ABC 3 (@weartv) May 10, 2015
That said, diving with whale sharks is done every day all throughout the Gulf of Mexico. If anything the encounter with these majestic creatures goes wonders for raising awareness at their low numbers and overexploitation. So before you bust out your pitchfork just think for a second that the very fact that we’re discussing whale sharks right now is good for the species, and this bro’s intentions don’t really matter in that case.
That was an adrenaline rush for sure pic.twitter.com/qEhjNe5mgT
— mickayla burke (@MickaylllaB) May 8, 2015
Again, all the couple did was hop in the water and ride the whale shark. They didn’t attack it, they didn’t hurt it, they merely slowed it down for a few minutes. If you want to point your outrage anywhere, this photo was taken in China last year in the Xiangzhi township in Quanzhou, eastern China’s Fujian province:
All of this is quite different from a story I brought you this morning of a man spearfishing on the other side of the state who came with 12-feet of a humongous great white shark while diving for fish