Fishermen 'surf' on the back of endanger-listed whale shark

Video has emerged showing an Iranian fisherman standing on the back of a whale shark to "surf" it as it dives slowly into the sea.

The video posted to Instagram earlier this month shows the young man stand astride one of the world’s biggest fish as it swims beside the fishing boat.

As the gentle giant moves away from the boat, another fisherman jumps on its head, forcing it under water.

Since the video was posted online on July 6 it has been viewed more than 24,000 times and drawn more than 1200 comments – many of them scathing of the young men’s actions.

The young Iranian leapt onto the whale shark as it passed his boat. Source: Instagram/rahmat.hosseini.71

“Idiot why would you do that?!” one wrote.

“This is ANIMAL ABUSE!!!” said another.

“You think that it liked the whale shark to have taken it for a surfboard? I do not believe! Respects a little more the nature and the animals which are there!! “ they added.

He 'surfed' the giant fish as it swam in the sea. Source: Instagram/rahmat.hosseini.71

Others pointed out that the men were abusing an endangered animal for their entertainment

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists whale sharks, which eat krill and are docile in nature, as an endangered species.

The 'surfing' seemed harmless, but then another young man jumped right on the whale shark's head. Source: Instagram/rahmat.hosseini.71

Shark specialist at the US National Oceanic Administration John Carlson told Newsweek in 2015 it was “foolish to climb on the back of a 40-foot animal in the water” after a similar incident in Florida.

“They are very large, they turn very quickly, you can get stuck underneath it, you can be hit by a fin,” the marine biologist said.