Saturday, August 1, 2009

Douglas Kiesling - Whale Shark Video

In a controversial video bound to raise a few eyebrows underwater photographer Douglas Kiesling takes us into the world of unregulated shark encounters:

Here is the video from this past weekend while I was out on location in the
Gulf of Mexico with our Southwest Florida Weather Paparazzi, Brian. We were working on a Coral Reef video project when we encountered a pair of the largest sharks in the world, Whale Sharks. The first Whale Shark was about 25 feet in length and the second Whale Shark was at least 30 feet in length.

The most amazing thing that happened was that when the group of divers we were with in the water got near the larger Whale Shark, it stopped and let everyone rub its back and head. It acted as if the divers were there to clean it and must have thought we were a cleaning station. This gave everyone that was in the water with the larger Whale Shark a once in a lifetime experience since this was out in the wild and is an extremely rare event.

In the video below, I shot the footage in the water while Brian was on the boat and shot the topside footage. That is until put his camera away and jumped into the water with the rest of us to swim with the gentle giants.


johnny said...

At the beginning of the video the whale-shark is trying to feed and the camera man is clearly harrasing him by grabbing is fin and tail. The rest of the video is simply ridiculous ... Some of those folks deserve a fine !

Shark Diver said...

Goes from bad to WTF in 3 minutes.

We had no idea you could put 13 swimmers on one shark at one time.

That's gotta be some kind of record.

George said...

That video is utterly ridiculous, to say the least. As johnny posted, the guy at the beginning is clearly harassing the shark. Kiesling seems genuinely clueless that they did anything wrong. His responses to some of the comments about the video seem to indicate he really believes they were doing the whale shark a favor, and that if they were doing any harm it would have left.

Andrew said...

Yeah,that's going to be some kind of record..great achievement...

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Brian Dombrowski said...

I feel a need to chime in on this after stumbling across this blog.

I was on the boat as a patron photo diver during this encounter and have been diving this area frequently for 17 years. I was the one who shot the top-side video.

Unlike those on this blog who make a living regularly exploiting sharks and/or their habitats, no one on this liveaboard photo trip EVER expected to see a whale shark. This was an unprecedented event for everyone including the crew over the course of 17 years. As a photo trip for reef lovers, there was clearly no intent to harm, BUT with no precedent, no known rules (it's a fish not a whale), and lots of excitement, a little mild chaos should be expected.

The fish came up to the boat and snorklers *repeatedly*. A second one was in the area and chose to maintain a distance of 100 yards. At first there was only one snorkler in the water, a guy from the OCEAN CONSERVANCY, who the fish seemed to fall in love with as it kept coming up to him again and again, so he started hitching it from the dorsal. Then others got in the water over time (this lasted over 2 hours.) Eventually some folks got carried away with riding, probably thinking the shark liked it because it just kept coming back to the group on its own.

The shark diving industry folks get bent when they see the video cause the probably assume this is the normal mode of operation of a shark encounter operator. It's not. There is no whale shark charter industry here, and we'll probably never see one again.... as far as you know.

Apparently, there are a few self-righteous critics here just looking for an excuse to rip someone a new orifice because it makes them feel superior, like a mall cop. Either that or they are just horribly jealous they missed out on the experience.