25-foot whale shark spotted off Florida coast

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jul 16, 2018

PALM BEACH, Florida — It was a special sighting.

A whale shark was spotted off the coast of Palm Beach over the weekend of July 14-15, causing quite the buzz among the diving and boating community.

The big guy was even caught on camera by several people.

"You don't see them every day," said Tony Crumrine with Cracker Charters.

He's one of the dozens of people who encountered the 25-foot whale shark, which was spotted in 80 feet of water about a mile-and-a-half off the Palm Beach shore, north of The Breakers Palm Beach.

"It was really awesome. I've only seen three in my lifetime," said Crumrine. "He made a circle and came right up to the back of the boat. He was three inches away from my dive platform."

Crumrine captured his face-to-face encounter on video.

"It was just me and him. No one else was around us," Crumrine said. "He was just cruising. Mother Nature. Doing his thing."

The whale shark continued along, swimming into MJ Jenkins and her divers with The Scuba Club.

"I jumped in. A couple of people fell in because they were so excited," said Jenkins said.

She made sure to grab her camera and also snapped an underwater video of the massive creature.

"It was swimming right at me, and I got a really good video. Got a little tap from the tail, which was a really interesting experience," she joked. "We were swimming hard, and just with a couple of kicks of his tail, he was gone."

She said watching the whale shark swim looked like it was moving in slow motion.

"Just a lot of energy and power from an amazing animal," Jenkins said.

Divers say it's just another perk of living in South Florida.

"You never know what you're going to see, which is an amazing feeling," said Jenkins.

Whale sharks can grow between 40 to 50 feet long.

While seeing them in Florida is rare, it's not unprecedented since they do migrate.

Last month, a group of whale sharks was spotted near Sarasota in the Gulf of Mexico. Local scientists there are hoping to tag them so they can be tracked.