Fisherman Slammed for Riding Whale Shark in Viral Video

A daring fisherman is receiving backlash on the internet, because of a viral video that shows him riding on the back of a whale shark.

The 50-second clip features the man hanging off the side of a boat before jumping onto the whale shark, riding on its back and seemingly posing for a picture.

زاكي الصبحي ، أبو وديع من محافظة #ينبع .. بحار ذو خبرة كبيرة في مجال الصيد وحياة البحر ، إلتقطته الكاميرا بعفوية خلال رحلة صيد مع أصدقاؤه وهو يداعب قرش أو حوت البهلوان ، ولقي المقطع صدى كبير في أوساط مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي.
أبو وديع أنموذج رائع لقصة بحّار عشق البحر بكل تفاصيله

— ماهر الصبحي ©️ (@maher_alsobhi) August 17, 2020

According to the Indian news network News 18, the man in the video is Zaki Al-sabahy, and the video was filmed in the Red Sea, near Yanbu city in Saudi Arabia.

A translation of the tweet from the original video calls Al-sabahy "a sailor with great experience in the field of fishing and sea life" and "a wonderful example of the story of the sailor, who fell in love with the sea."

The tweet continues to explain the circumstances before he jumped on the shark. "[T]he camera caught him spontaneously during a fishing trip with his friends while he was petting a shark or a clown whale, and the clip was echoed in the circles of social networking sites," the translation continued.

The video was shared by Al Madina, a local news outlet, on Twitter, and many social media users voiced their disapproval of the man's behavior and treatment of the whale shark. One woman called for the people in the video to be arrested. "Exterminate animals on land, and now the countdown to aquatic creatures has occurred. I hope an urgent law will be imposed for those who kill or approach any animal before it is too late," she wrote.

"Praise be to God, their names are there. I hope they will be arrested and held accountable for this recklessness," another person tweeted.

One person criticized the outlet for sharing the video. "These are their names and in an official newspaper they flaunt their irresponsible behavior. This tampering with the innate life and should not be dealt with on the grounds that it is courage or a funny matter," the Twitter user responded to the post.

The video posted by Al Madina has since been viewed 1.9 million times.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, whale sharks are an endangered species and their fins, meat and oil have a high price tag in various markets. WWF is studying the sharks and their environment, and also tracks many sharks. The organization is also working to improve shark tourism and to educate the public about whale sharks.

One person who posted the video and said he knows the fisherman in the video, explained that Al-sabahy knows what he's doing and often tries to help the sharks via direct message. "This man is an old sailor and has experience in dealing with this fish, and he found hanging in the fish and grabbed it," he wrote to Newsweek in a message. "He finds the nets attached to the fish and removes them."

Whale shark
Whale Sharks watched by tourists off the coast on April 22, 2012 in Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Getty/James D. Morgan