Thursday, June 20, 2013

Travel Guide: Whaleshark Encounter in Oslob (Cebu)

Swimming with the Whale Sharks - My Experience

one of my most precious moments
It has long been a dream for me to see a real whale shark (butanding).

When I first see the whale shark on TV being fed by a fisherman, my jaw dropped in total amazement and I told myself that this year will not end without me seeing one. I didn't know that the realization of this dream will happen so swiftly.

When we went to Cebu last may, I tried my luck. We went to Oslob, a place where they said whale sharks are abundantly swimming just several meters away from the shore; I was not disappointed. Indeed when we went there, the gentle giants of the sea were also there - waiting for their free foods (krill) given by the fishermen. They just stay there, several meters from the shore, because in that place they can get their own supply of food without having to scout the vastness of the sea.

To see the whale sharks face to face was overwhelming. I swam beside them, above them, below them. We swam together in perfect harmony, marching by the music created by the waves. I was so happy that my eyes managed to shed some tears. It was a magical experience. It was something.

I was happy that I see them for real, but I was saddened by the fact that someday they will be forced out from the place they already considered home because there will no longer be enough food for them. Fishermen are only feeding smaller whale sharks (15 meters and below) and they drive away bigger ones because they might cause accident and they will not have enough supply of foods to feed them all. They are not considering the fact that these baby whales will soon become gigantic creatures as well. When that happens then what? They will be forced to leave the place as well. But how will they look for their foods? Since they have already been used to getting their foods by swimming next to boats, I fear that when they are forced to leave the place, they will look for their foods by going near boats instead of searching the sea. This will bring them into danger.

The “haven” that Oslob community has created for the whale shark is okay for now, but how about years from now when they are ought to live on their own? Looking at it in a long term scenario, the whale shark ‘sanctuary’ of Oslob is like the training ground of the whales on how to swim towards their own hell... their death.


How to Get to Oslob for Whaleshark Encounter

  • Private Transportation

  1. Head south on Vicente Rama Avenue towards Chu Un Temple Driveway
  2. Turn right onto N. Bacalso Avenue
  3. Keep left at the fork and merge upon reaching Mambaling Flyover
  4. Keep right at the fork and merge again when you reach Cebu South Road
  5. Sharp right to Cebu South Road
  6. Continue driving until Natalio B. Bacalso South National Hwy
  7. Go through until you reach Oslob.

  • Public Transportation

  1. From Cebu City head straight to South Bus Terminal beside Elizabeth Mall.
  2. Take the bus bound to Oslob travel is almost 3 hours.
  3. Tell the driver to drop you off at Barangay named Tan-awan, it is the place where you can see the whale sharks swimming by the shores of Oslob.

Projected Expenses for Whale Shark Interaction

Bus from Cebu City to Tan-awan Oslob
Php155 (Ceres Bus aircon)
Whale watching
Swimming / Snorkeling with the whale sharks
Php500 (with life vest and snorkeling gear)
Fin rental

*The activity last for 30 minutes.

Travel Tips

  • Schedule of Whaleshark Watching is only from 6PM until 1PM so be sure that you are there within that period.

Interesting Facts

  • Whale sharks is that they are the largest fish in the world. They can grow to as big as 65 feet or almost 20 meters.
  • These biggest fish on earth are eating some of the tiniest creatures in the world such as planktons, krills, and small crustaceans.

Two Cents Worth of Thoughts

There is a briefing of what and not to do during the whaleshark interaction activity but it is difficult to implement them when the guests with their boatmen go on shore. As a RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN OF THE WORLD, try with all your might to live with what have been discussed.

  • DO NOT IN ANY WAY touch the whales as this can harm the protective layer that covers them. When they swim towards you, stay out of their way. Stay 4 meters away from the sharks as much as possible.
  • Do not use sunblock. The activity will last for 30 minutes, I hope within that period you can bear being exposed to the sun while you are enjoying your swim. If you can’t go out there without spreading sunblock all over your body, I suggest do not bother swimming with the whale sharks; just watch them from your boat.
  • Do not use flash when taking pictures.

*** I think feeding the whale sharks and using them to earn money instead of raising natural awareness SHOULD AND MUST BE STOPPED. 

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  1. Hi Missy! Did you get to touch the shark? Whaha. I'm sure this is one of your most unforgettable encounters. :D Galing!

    1. I can but I did not. Touching the sharks is highly discouraged as it can harm them. :)

  2. this is very informative Missy. thanks for sharing your experience. so you were staying at a hotel in Cebu City. are there hotels /accommodation in Oslob or is it not advisable to stay in Oslob the whole time? thanks

  3. It's best if you stay there overnight and do the activity the next day. There are aplenty of hotels and accommodations in Oslob, so that would not pose as a problem. In our case, we stayed in a friend's house which is 1 hour away from Oslob.


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