Group spots giant whale shark off coast of SW Florida

‘We were in shock!’

Giant whale shark swims in Gulf of Mexico

SIESTA KEY, Fla. (Gray News) – Alexa Groat got the surprise of her life this week while on a deep-sea fishing trip off the southwest coast of Florida.

About 12 miles offshore, her group discovered a giant whale shark swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We were in shock! I've lived in Florida my whole life and never have I seen anything like it!” Groat said. “Truly the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.”

She was out with a group celebrating her sister’s birthday.

Groat said she was tempted to get in the water with the creature recognized as the world’s largest fish.

“Oh my gosh, yes! It was so peaceful, and it coasted alongside the boat for a good while,” she said. “We all wanted to go for a swim, but we were afraid of what might be swimming along below it.”

Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long and weigh an average of 20 tons.

Despite their big size, they’re not dangerous to humans. They eat by filtering tiny plankton and fish eggs out of the water.

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