Divers upset over man in viral video riding whale shark in Semporna

A clip taken from the video showing the man riding the whale shark

KOTA KINABALU: Divers in Semporna are disappointed over a viral video of a man, believed to be a tourist guide touching and riding a whale shark at an island off the Sabah east coast district.

The incident, which was captured in a 17-second clip, was believed to have taken place at Pulau Sibuan on Friday (Nov 25).

Semporna Professional Diver Association (SPDA) president Suzimin Idris said such an episode should not have happened if the guide knew how to respect wildlife and was aware of the laws enforced by Sabah Parks.

He added the Pulau Sibuan waters were under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks.

"SPDA has issued reminders for each dive centre to only hire qualified tourist guides," he said, in a statement on Saturday (Nov 26).

He said the dive centres could take this approach or train their workers and divers to respect the wildlife and preserve the environment.

"Once again, the SPDA urges the tourism players in Semporna to give the proper training and awareness to their staff," Suzimin said.

At the same time, he also reminded boat operators not to cast their anchors in areas with coral reefs.

"This is another way for us to respect mother earth," he added.

Towards this end, he urged the authorities to take heed of the matter which he said was becoming rampant at islands off the district.

"This is especially at Pulau Timba-Timba. Many of the coral reefs have been destroyed by anchors.

"Every day, there are more than 10 boats casting their anchors," he said, adding the SPDA has brought up the matter in social media but no action has been taken yet by local authorities.

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