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Whale shark caught on video in Gulf near Naples

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 19:12:28-04

NAPLES, Fla.- A Sarasota man has a whale of a tale - and the video to prove it - after coming across a huge whale shark in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. He shot it with a GoPro camera during a fishing trip off the coast of Collier County.

Steve Whitlock told Fox 4 that he's been lucky enough to see the huge fish before, but didn't have a video camera with him at the time. Luckily he had one Sunday, and borrowed a snorkel and flippers when he saw the whale shark's fins above the water's surface. He jumped in for a closer look.

"I took a second to orient myself and see where the fish was, and boom, it was right in front of me," Whitlock said. "I got it in full frame with the GoPro. I just kind of watched as it slowly, lethargically meandered on by me."

Whitlock uploaded the video online and said that it got 52,000 views in the first 16 hours.

"The best thing was when a school teacher contacted me and said she shared it with the kids in her class," he said. "That was pretty cool."

Whitlock hopes it encourages those kids and others to explore the waters around us in Southwest Florida.

"There's just so much to see and do in the water here, and people should take advantage of that," he said.

Whale sharks generally eat plankton and are mostly harmless to humans. A spokeswoman from Mote Marine  in Sarasota encourages anyone who comes across one to try to get pictures if they can, and let them know where they saw it and when.