On Jan. 2, off Hawaii island's Kona coast, a group of excited snorkelers came across a mild-mannered and curious whale shark. The resulting scene can only be described as a flash mob as the tourists wave, flash shakas, and awkwardly maneuver around the whale shark's slow-moving path.
Whale shark sightings in Hawaii are very rare, so when dive master Keller Laros of Jack's Diving Locker and his crew spotted a group of tour boats surrounding the elusive creature, he quickly grabbed his camera and dove in.
"The whale shark itself was very curious and it approached divers and boats very closely," Laros told KHON. "Everyone was careful not to harass or touch or tease the whale shark."
Laros, who is also a co-founder of the non-profit, Manta Pacific Research Foundation, tried to identify the whale shark by free diving deep underneath it. He estimated the animal to be about 20 to 25 feet long, which is relatively small considering the species is the largest fish in the sea, usually reaching up to 40 feet or more in length.
"The whale shark lives a pretty solitary life by in large. ... So, all of a sudden, to have all these interesting things happen, the whale shark just seemed to be enjoying the company," Laros said.
Aside from documenting the rare encounter, Laros wanted to make sure the observing snorkelers were treating the wild animal with respect. In the video, he can be heard reminding them not to touch the slow-moving fish. All of the snorkelers heeded Laros's advice, except for one diver who tried to grab the whale shark's dorsal fin.
"It's pretty much understood here that you don't touch, tease, harass, ride, any of the wild animals out here," Laros said. "It's just a privilege to be in their presence and the whale shark is no exception."
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