28-year-old Jade Pursell was diving with a friend at Ningaloo Reef, Australia, when they encountered a huge whale shark that was swimming all the way up to their speedboat.
The pair was accompanied by Sailor, the friendly Labrador, who walked to the fish curiously through their boat. He was doing his best to somehow make contact with the shark, which ended in a lovely nose kiss.
Here’s a video of the interaction:
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) – a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark – is the largest known extant fish species, with the largest confirmed individual reaching a length of 18.8 m (62 ft). The species holds many records for size in the animal kingdom, most notably being by far the largest living nonmammalian vertebrate.
The whale shark lives in the open waters of tropical oceans and is rarely found in waters below 21 °C (70 °F). Its lifespan is estimated to be 80–130 years, which scientists have calculated based on its vertebral growth bands and the growth rates of free-swimming sharks.
Tiny humans near a huge whale shark. The divers are not in any danger though. Photo: PacificKlaus
Whale sharks have enormous mouths and are filter feeders, a feeding mode occurring in two further shark species only, the megamouth shark and the basking shark. They feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fish, and pose no threat to humans.
On the contrary, they are indeed very friendly.