A spearfisher had the thrill of his life when a colossal whale shark unexpectedly plowed right into him as he was filming in the Atlantic.
Chris Coates was shooting a fishing adventure film near Ascension Island when the incident occurred. Laser-focused on the fish he was documenting, Coates didn’t realize the mammoth sea creature was swimming directly towards him.
His fellow fisherman and adventure buddy finally got his attention, but it was too late to make any adjustments; the whale shark crashed right into him. Although the shark’s dorsal fin hit Coates in the torso, thankfully, he wasn’t seriously injured. He reportedly went right back into the water the next day.
Whale sharks have no relation to whales, despite their name. They’re actually the largest fish on the planet, capable of growing up to 40 feet in length. But while they may look intimidating due to their size, these filter feeders are harmless gentle giants that dine only on plankton.
Found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters, these curious animals are known to gather in huge numbers in areas like the Gulf of Mexico, Western Australia, and the Philippines. Unfortunately, they’re a rare sight outside of these areas.
Whale sharks may live up to 100 years, but few survive that long. Their populations are decreasing due to habitat loss, pollution, boat collisions, and irresponsible tourism activities. The biggest threat, however, is the trade for their body parts used in Chinese traditional medicine.