Maldives, Indian Ocean — In honor of the first day of Spring we bring you back to when freediving giant, Umberto Pelizarri took to the warm, clear waters surrounding the Maldivian archipelago to swim with one of nature’s most breathtaking giants, the whale shark. Although massive in size whale sharks are just docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride. These slow-moving, gentle giants can even be found occasionally playing with divers.
In a “Not on our Menu” series of videos with the Underwater Channel, Umberto seeks to help put an end to shark-finning, and in particular to protect whale sharks, by showing viewers the beauty of his underwater experiences with the largest fish in the sea. The whale shark is targeted by commercial fisheries in several areas where they seasonally aggregate. The exact entire population is unknown but the species is considered vulnerable by the IUCN. Back in 1998 the Phillipines banned all fishing, selling, importing and exporting of whale sharks for commercial purposes, but sadly, whale sharks are still hunted in parts of Asia, such as Taiwan and even the Philippines.