Whale sharks are endangered because of the impact of commercial fisheries. They are often targets but also suffer as by-catch, as many marine animals do. As people tend to do, they exploit these endangered animals. Many tourist spots around the world offer tourists the opportunities to see them or even swim with them. The entire concept of taking photos with an exotic or wild animal is dangerous for the animals, especially those classified as endangered. Human contact often puts animals in even further danger and there are, of course, always those that don’t even follow rules and are completely disrespectful to the animals.

Just last month, in August, two men on one of the islands belonging to Mexico treated a whale shark as if it were a surfboard, and not the living fish that it is. Swimming with whale sharks is allowed in many tourist destinations, but it is forbidden to touch them. Clearly, the two men did not follow the rules and had no regard whatsoever for the safety and wellbeing of the whale shark.

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Photos went viral of the tour guide and tourist standing on the whale shark while holding onto ropes that were likely on a boat. Understandably, the photos sparked anger and outrage from people concerned about the animals. Whale sharks may be the largest fish in the world, but they are also fragile and human contact can lead to injury. They must also always keep moving in order to breathe and they already swim at a slow pace — humans standing on one’s back could cause it to slow down further or even stop, which puts them at risk of not being able to breathe.

A petition asks that the tour guide who did this not be allowed to give tours anymore. He clearly does not care about the animals. If you agree, sign this petition which also asks the Mexican authorities to find the men in the photo and take action for endangering the fish.

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