WATCH: Florida men swim with whale shark

- Two fishermen had the experience of a lifetime with the largest species of fish in the world while boating off Florida’s coast this week – and they caught it all on video.

Tim Lockey and John Jernigan were boating about 40 miles off the coast of Venice when they spotted a whale shark – the largest known species of fish in existence today.

The men took the opportunity to dive into the water and swim alongside the magnificent beast. They recorded the entire awe-inspiring experience on video. In the footage, you can hear the men’s delight and disbelief at their rare encounter.

The video they shared with FOX 13 provides a glimpse into the majesty of the nature that surrounds our state. It’s unclear just how large the whale shark was that Lockey and Jernigan encountered.

Meanwhile, Mote Marine scientists are asking members of the public to immediately report any new sightings of whale sharks along Florida’s Gulf coast. They say the gentle filter-feeding fish are seen in various places in the Gulf of Mexico and sporadically visit Southwest Florida’s coastal waters, probably feeding on localized blooms of plankton or on fish eggs.

Mote scientists are collecting reports of whale shark sightings to look for possible patterns to their movements in our waters. They ask anyone who sees a whale shark to call Mote’s Center for Shark Research at 941-388-1827, with the number of whale sharks you saw along with the time, date and location (GPS coordinates if possible).

They ask anyone who calls in a report to provide a phone number and/or e-mail address and note whether you can provide photos. They are asking for reports of sightings after May 2017, unless there is documentation of the precise location, date, time, and the number of whale sharks.  

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