Video footage of several scuba divers riding on the back of an endangered whale shark has sparked outrage amongst environmentalists.
The incident took place in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia earlier this month when one of the divers decided to mount the back of the huge whale shark - the largest fish in the sea - and grabbed the side of its head.
Whilst he made 'OK' gestures towards the camera, two others grabbed onto the shark's sides.
Needless to say, environmentalists were not happy with their actions. They complained to the authorities, who have now identified the culprits.
The man on the back of the whale shark has now been arrested and has been identified as a local businessman.
Indonesia's Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, said: ''It has been handled, and the perpetrator has been arrested.''
Indonesia's marine laws mean that it is illegal to touch whale sharks when in the water. They get hurt quite easily, and their slow movement means that they are an easy target for hunters. On top of that, they often get caught in nets and injured by fishing trawlers.
Their numbers have significantly declined in recent years in the wild, leading to them being labelled as endangered.
By the same marine laws, scuba divers are compelled to remain at least three feet away from the animals at all times.
A campaign co-ordinator for WWF-Indonesia - the country's branch of the World Wildlife Fund - Dwi Aryo Tjiptohandono, said: ''Whale sharks are animals whose existence is protected by the Regulation of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
''If a whale shark is injured or injured, then it can lead to death.
''Because it only eats small fish like anchovies, so many think this whale shark is tame. Even though in essence he is a wild animal, although in general it is not harmful to humans.''
One activist, Rachmad Saleh, added: 'It's too stupid, claiming to be a diver but acting ridiculous. It's a shame.
''One form of sanctions that will be imposed on the perpetrators is that there will be no sanctions if they will enter the conservation area. Their license is also threatened to be revoked.
''Whale sharks are protected because they are being threatened with extinction. So, if someone behaves like in a video it is very unfortunate.''
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) whale sharks are so endangered that they are on the 'Red List'.
Whale sharks are usually between 5 and 10 metres long and weigh, on average, 18.7 tonnes.
Featured Image Credit: ViralPress
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