A group of about 25 divers had an hour-long encounter with a whale shark off Hillsborough Inlet, The Miami Herald reported.
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean – and dive instructor Craig Dietrich estimated that the one he saw Sunday morning was 30 feet long.
“It wasn’t like we saw a whale shark — we hung out with a whale shark. It was amazing,” Dietrich, who is an instructor with Pompano Beach Dive Center and an underwater photographer, told the Herald.
Divers from two boats, the Miss Conduct and the Sea Dog Diver, got an up-close view of the whale shark about a mile south of the inlet. The creature simply swam and ate during the 70 or so minutes they were together, Dietrich said.
“He kept swimming right up to us, just completely comfortable with us,” he told the paper. “This was everybody’s dream.”
It’s rare but not unprecedented to see whale sharks off South Florida’s Atlantic coast, said Bob Hueter, the director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.