A family out for a day’s fishing spotted five giant whale sharks in the waters off the coast of Florida.
Jacob Campoamor, 24, was on board Family Tradition in the Gulf of Mexico when he saw the creatures – the biggest fish in the sea – which have an unusual polka-dot marking.
Jacob, from Tampa, who filmed the fish, said: “We were moving from one fishing spot to the next when we saw a commotion in the water off in the distance.
“We went and checked it out and ultimately realised we came across three whale sharks. We were amazed and were enjoying the experience.
“When they eventually left we followed them and came across two more – including what we think was a baby.”
Jacob was with his father, grandfather and two uncles on the boat hoping to catch grouper when the whale sharks appeared.
The family can be heard talking in the video, wondering aloud what sort of fish they are.
Judging the whale sharks against the size of the boat, Jacob estimates the fish were about 30ft, with the baby about half that length.
“All in all we knew it was a rare sighting but had no idea just how rare it was.”
Researchers from Mote Marine Laboratory were alerted to the sighting about 40 miles off Anna Maria Island. They want to find and tag whale sharks so they can learn more about their behaviour.
“It’s exciting that we are hearing reports of five whale sharks in one area, because it suggests they might be feeding on something in a special spot,” said Dr Bob Hueter, senior scientist and director of the Centre For Shark Research at Mote.
A satellite tag would collect data on the fish’s location plus the water temperatures and depths they encounter over a six-month period.
The tag would trail behind the shark’s dorsal fin on a short tether and transmit data when it was at the surface. Retrieving the tag would give scientists extra data.