These photos of two men ‘surfing’ on the back of a protected whale shark off the coast of Mexico have sparked outrage online.
The photos are believed to have been taken off the coast of either Isla Holbox or Mujeres, two islands in the Caribbean Sea that belong to the south-eastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
They depict two men, believed to be a holidaymaker and a tour operator, seemingly riding on the back of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus), a protected species in Mexico, as they hold onto ropes apparently attached to a vessel.
Many netizens were outraged by the snaps, with ‘Rafiki MC’ commenting: “The excursion operator and tourist who climbed on that poor animal should be punished!”
‘EduardoD’ said: “That is totally unacceptable.”
‘MohamedZubair’ wrote: “They are uncivilised people who I condemn in the strongest manner.”
According to reports, the whale shark is the largest known extant fish species and can grow up to lengths of around 42 feet. The largest known individual was recorded at 18.8 metres (61 feet).
Regional director for the Yucatan Peninsula Regional Commission Cristopher Gonzalez said: “We are trying to identify the authenticity of these images.”
He added that there is no other information than what is available on social media and suggested that it may not have taken place in Mexico due to the types of rope seen in the photos.
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