Swimming with dolphins is so last year. Now people are swimming with sharks—and they're filming themselves doing it.
Grant Murdock recently took a snorkeling vacation to Bora-Bora, and while there, he filmed a friend riding an 8-foot lemon shark.
In the video, the friend can be seen throwing his arms around the animal and holding it for a few seconds while it swims along the ocean floor.
Murdock originally posted the video to his YouTube page on Wednesday, but he's since taken it down, presumably because of the backlash it received. When Shark Attack News picked up the video and posted it on its Facebook page, users chimed in to express their outrage, calling the act "deplorable" and Murdock and his friend "idiots."
Shark Attack News reports that in the past, professionals with years of experience around sharks had posted videos of their interactions with them, including moments when they swam together. But increasingly, the site has received similar videos from amateur wildlife enthusiasts who are taking up the ill-advised practice.
Slate reports that in his original YouTube post, Murdock stated that the sharks he and his friend rode that day were "so gentle and accepting of our advances. They didn't seem to mind at all that we were riding for free." But as many commenters pointed out, that characterization is particularly dangerous for online readers, who may on their next vacation be inspired to bear-hug a shark and ask it for a ride. Docile or not, wild animals are inherently unpredictable.
Human injury is just one of the possible implications of random amateurs using sharks for personal entertainment. Last year, after a Florida teen was caught hitching a ride on a whale shark, marine biologist Bruce Neill told ABC News, "When people spend a lot of time and a lot of pressure on a fish, it takes away that slime covering and potentially has negative health impacts for the fish."
Lemon sharks aren't listed as endangered, which means touching them isn't illegal. But ethically, it's another matter. As one Facebook commenter wrote, "Sharks aren't here as our personal playthings; show them some respect."