‘Surreal’: A whale shark just swam up to a boat off Florida and decided to stay awhile

It’s not every day you see the largest fish in existence approach your boat and stay a while.

Actually, it rarely ever happens, says Florida fisherman John Sevcik, who considers himself “lucky” that he was out on the water off Juno Beach Friday morning to witness the mammoth fish with his own eyes.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” said Sevcik, of Blue Heron Fishing. “Some people can be out there in five lifetimes and never see it.”

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The outdoorsman known as Captain Johnny says he had taken out a charter that morning. They were about three miles off shore in about 100 feet of water at around 10:30 a.m. when a huge whale shark just appeared.

After the gigantic creature approached the 85-foot-long vessel, it “hung out” for about 10 to 15 minutes.

“It was like he was just saying hi,” said Sevcik. “It almost came up like it was robotic. Pretty graceful.”

Sevcik estimated the visitor to be about 25 feet long. Whale sharks are filter feeders, meaning they vacuum in a lot of very little fish, crabs and plankton as food. The largest members of the species can reach 10 tons.

“It was surreal. About half the size of the boat. Pretty massive.”

The captain considers himself and anyone on the boat that morning pretty lucky.

As for why it chose his boat, that day?

“I have a theory,” jokes Sevcik. “I’m not a marine biologist, but he looked as if he wanted to scratch his back.”

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Celebrity/real time news reporter Madeleine Marr has been with The Miami Herald since 2003. She has covered such features as travel, fashion and food. In 2007, she helped launch the newspaper’s daily People Page, attending red carpet events, awards ceremonies and press junkets; interviewing some of the biggest names in show business; and hosting her own online show. She is originally from New York City and has two daughters.