It was scary because the whale sharks (butanding in local language) were so big, and I just shrink to nothingness beside it. When it swam towards my direction, I felt blood quickly rushing through my head out of panic. I swam away as fast as I could.
It was wonderful because then I realize that there are just so many amazing things out there. I call these my aliens. The world, the ocean, the universe is so vast for me not to believe in aliens or the unknown. And it is almost arrogant of me not to believe that there is something else unknown out there. Modern civilization has already discovered a lot, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing else more to discover. Heck, we haven't even discovered our own bodies and brains completely.
It was sad because I also remember the atrocious things humans have done to similar creatures. How can one kill something so alive and gentle; it is almost like killing a baby.
Nonetheless, it was still mostly a wonderful experience and I thought to myself, "I will definitely come back and do whale shark watching again."
And then, I came across a petition to stop whale shark feeding in Oslob and wondered if it will be a mistake to see the whale sharks in Oslob once again? I wasn't able to find any research on how whale shark feeding would be detrimental for the environment, but I did see that Oslob's conservation practices were needing improvement. Theoretically, one should be at least be 4 meters away from the whale sharks but everyone was so close (including me.)
Honestly, I do not regret going to Oslob and seeing the whale sharks, and I don't want the practice to stop yet, but I would be happy to see improvements in wildlife conservations in Oslob. I read that it is much better in Donsol, Sorsogon; perhaps I'll visit there next time.
Getting to Oslob
From Cebu city terminal, you ride an aircon or non aircon bus to Tanauan, Oslob. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Tanauan for whale shark watching.
Expenses (January 2014)
Fare from Cebu city to Tanauan - 160php
Whale shark watching including snorkels and mask - 600php
I brought my own snorkels but forgot to ask if the fee would be reduced had I not rented the snorkel and mask.
Underwater camera rental - 500php
Their cameras don't really take good quality photos but the boatmen are so accommodating so you would momentarily forget that issue. You can also bring your own camera and pay only 100php to register it - I'm not sure why that has a fee though.
Edited: February 2014
Because of the call for better protection of the whale sharks, the local government has established some rules for the activity. New rules are constantly being added as the community learns more from the experience.
1. Attend the 10 minute orientation at the briefing center before swimming with the whale sharks – this is included in the snorkeling or diving fee that you will pay the resort.
2. Maintain at least 6m distance away from the whale sharks. That is to say, do not touch, hold, ride, or restrict in any way the natural movement of the whale sharks.
3. Do not wear lotion, sunblock, or similar skin protection as it affects the ph level of the water.
4. Only paddle boats are allowed in the area. Report your resort if they use motor boats to transport tourists.
5. Viewing is only for 30 minutes
See you around!
Other Cebu Related Posts
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Zero Visibility: Following the Melody (Osmena Peak, Cebu) - January, 2014
Is Seeing Alone Satisfying? (Kawasan Falls, Obong Spring, Dakong Bato - Cebu) - January, 2014
For the Love of Good Old Times, Choose Cebu - January, 2014
Moalboal & The Friends That I Won't Make (Cebu) - January, 2014