SURFER assistant photo editor, Bryce Lowe-White, and his friend Brian Woods, were in Mexico on a surf trip. The swell had dropped, the wind shifted and they’d just decided to take a break for the day, when they spotted a large animal right off the beach.

It was a whale shark. The whale shark is the largest known existing fish species in the world and, as a slow-moving filter feeder, is harmless to humans.

So naturally, they jumped back in to investigate — GoPro camera in hand.

“There was a moment of true fear when I first approached it,” Woods told GrindTV in an email. “I had to to keep reminding myself that something like this may never present itself again.”

The guys took turns swimming with the “gorgeous, intimidating and peaceful” creature, all the while waiting for a reaction that never came. The shark pulled them for a bit, then they swam back to their surfboards and marveled at the creature, all the while stunned at how extraordinary such an encounter was.

“It was probably one of the the most surreal experiences of my life,” Woods admits. “I’m still baffled we were able to share a moment with such an incredible creature.”

The whale shark is the largest known existing fish species in the world and, as a slow-moving filter feeder, is harmless to humans.

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