swimming with whale sharks

Written by Donovan April 22, 2015 Category: Asia, Philippines Tags: , , Comments
Instead of going back to Cebu to catch the bus to Oslob, we managed to get a direct ferry from Panglao to Oslob to watch the whale sharks. Oslob does not have a nice beach like Alona, but many tourists flock here to be able to swim with the whale sharks. It costs 1000P for foreigners and half the price for locals. There were many local tourists who were interested in viewing the whale sharks as well, which are known to be largest verbrates in the world.
The process was very organised and I was impressed with the professionalism. Firstly, we had to attend a briefly to understand about what to do with the whale sharks when swimming with them. It is also prohibited to apply sunscreen because the chemicals in it would harm the sharks. We also had to keep a 4m safety distance from the sharks because they might attack when provoked. Generally, whale sharks are the most harmless sharks in the world because they feed on plankton. Their giant mouths act like filter feeders in the sense that they only ingest the plankton and the other stuff such as seagrass which goes through their mouth would be passed back to the ocean.
After payment, we went out to sea by boat with two boatmen. There were many boats at sea and each could hold a maximum of six people. There were also marine biologists in the area to ensure that people did not touch the whale sharks during the interaction. Once in the middle of the sea, we took off our life jackets and jumped into the waters. Soon, a whale shark swam close to our boat and we snapped away frantically. The boatmen were also kind enough to help us take underwater shots with our gopro. There were divers at the bottom, but you would have to pay extra for the equipment. For me, I think that snorkeling is good enough and you can get up close with the sharks. Apparently, they are being fed shrimps, that’s why they keep circling our boat and long enough for us to take photos. The ones we saw were not that big, maybe because they were not mature ones. We had half an hour swimming with the sharks in the sea and it was most satisfying. A few times the tail of the shark stroke my legs as it swam around. It felt hard and smooth. The experience of being so near the sharks was simply amazing. Usually, mention the word sharks and people would freeze in fear, but these are gentle giants too. If you happen to be in Cebu, it is highly recommended that you make a day trip to Oslob to see the whale sharks.

After a three and a half hour long bus ride back to Cebu City,  it was back to the noise and bad traffic. I had to stand for more than one hour in the bus because there were no seats. Only until someone else alighted midway, then I managed to rest my tired legs.
In Cebu, we tried a grilled chicken and the famous lechon  (roast suckling pig). After that, it was a taxi ride to the airport where I’ll be taking a domestic flight to Manila while my friends go back to Singapore. The taxi ride took twice the usual time because it was peak hour. I’m having bad vibes of the traffic in Manila as I’ve heard many horror stories about it. Not so looking forward to visiting the capital of the Philippines though, we’ll see how it goes.

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