Scuba divers filmed riding on the back of a whale shark in Cenderawasih Bay national park in eastern Indonesia have reportedly been arrested by police.
The 22 second video, which has attracted 765,000 views, was shared to Facebook by a diving instructor named Wayan Segara Bali on 9 August and has generated severe criticism. The videographer remains unknown.
The divers, which have been identified as guests on a Sea Safari Cruises boat, were filmed grabbing the back and fins of the whale shark, which seemed to be distressed by the ordeal.
The identities and nationalities of the divers are yet to be disclosed, and details of charges have not been confirmed.
Sea Safari Cruises offers diving adventures east of Bali.
Environmentalist group, The Bird’s Head Seascape, questioned Sea Safari Cruises about the incident and received a statement. Some of it read:
“We in no way condone or facilitate or promote this kind of interaction with marine life. When guests come aboard, and before any diving activities commence, there is an essential briefing regarding common accepted safe practices such as maintaining good buoyancy and not to disturb or harass the marine life.”
It continues: “This is one of those regrettable incidents when experienced divers, with a higher certification level, decided on their own to not act according to the instructions in the dive-briefing and not follow the guidance of the divemaster.”
According to reports, Sea Safari Cruises has claimed that none of the divers were employees.
Main image: Screen shot from video posted on Facebook