Crewman goes for a brief ride on a whale shark; video screen grab

Fishermen on a multi-day charter off Australia's Northern Territory were surprised recently by a whale shark that loitered around their boat for about four hours–long enough for one of the crew to become inspired to jump in and swim with the docile creature.

The surreal encounter, about 100 miles west of Darwin, involved a Cannon Charters expedition.

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The accompanying footage, with commentary by guide Benny "the Bushman" Sambrooks, shows the whale shark swimming curiously beside at the boat with its mouth open, and at one point bumping into the 15-foot tender. (The shark appears to be slightly longer than the tender.)

"He ain't real smart. Lucky he's pretty," one of the men can be heard saying.


Crewman marvels at sight of a whale shark so close to the boat; video screen grab

Whale sharks are the world's largest fish, reaching lengths of about 40 feet. They're found in tropical seas around the world, but their migration patterns remain mysterious.

Later during the encounter, Sambrooks could not resist the temptation. “I jumped in and had a little swim with him,” he says.

Fortunately for the guide, whale sharks feed predominantly on plankton and are harmless to humans.

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