Close encounters of the whale shark kind! Boaters treated to rare sighting off Waikiki

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some lucky boaters were treated to a rare encounter with a whale shark off Waikiki this weekend.

Members of the Waikiki Yacht Club race committee said they spotted the whale shark about half a mile off the Ala Wai Channel.

The sighting happened around 3 p.m., after the Waikiki Beach Fleet race.

"I've always loved marine life and it was on the top of my bucket list of something to be able to see," boater Jennifer Mickle said.

She said the whale shark was 12 to 15 feet long.

Mickle and other race committee members were on a boat picking up buoys when they spotted it.

"We stopped and he just started swimming right towards us. As soon as we cut the engine, it just meandered all the way over and along the side of the boat just watching us a little bit," Mickle said.

The whale shark circled their boat a couple of times before swimming away. Mickle said the entire encounter only lasted about a minute.

Whale sharks are the world's largest living fish.

They can grow up to 60 feet long, though they are typically between 13 and 40 feet, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. They're often seen feeding near the surface and, in Hawaii waters, rarely found north of Kauai.

Fun fact: Whale sharks have an enormous menu, but their favorite food is plankton.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.