The Jakarta Post
Conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature Indonesia (WWF Indonesia) has lambasted a group of divers and a local tour operator after a video went viral showing divers riding a whale shark, a protected species, while also warning that the careless act is dangerous for both humans and the fish.
The 22-second clip, in which a group of divers were seen touching and riding the whale shark, was taken in Cendrawasih Bay National Park in Papua.
Cassandra Tania, marine species officer at the WWF Indonesia, said the act was dangerous for both humans and the whale shark, as the harsh skin of the largest fish species could harm the divers.
“What's more, its large size means it could hurt humans if the shark hits them,” she said over the weekend as reported by tempo.co.
The video, which went viral on social media, was first uploaded by the frontman of legendary rock band Slank, Akhadi “Kaka” Wira Satriaji, on his personal Twitter account @fishGOD on Thursday. In the post, Kaka tagged Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
Cassandra added that riding and swimming near the whale sharks could also potentially lead to the sharks’ death, with the species listed as endangered and protected by a 2013 regulation issued by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
Moreover, she also regretted that the tour operator did not inform the divers on how to properly interact with the whale sharks.
Cendrawasih Bay National Park is the largest marine national park in the archipelago where visitors can have unique encounters with the giant fish that regularly visit the area. (ris/rin)