Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meek Giants Under the Sea: Whale Shark Encounter in Oslob, Cebu

            Whale sharks are the largest living fish on the planet. As the largest fish, it can reach a length of 40 feet (12 meters) or more, and have an enormous menu from which to choose. Whale sharks have very large mouths and as filter feeders, they feed mainly on plankton. They scoop these tiny plants and animals up, along with any small fish that happen to be around, with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the water’s surface.

            Whale sharks are found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea, with a lifespan of about 70 years. Since they mature late, they are not producing offspring until 30+ years of age, and give birth to relatively few offspring during their lifetime.

   In recent years, the whale shark feeding, watching and swimming in Oslob, Cebu has been increasing both in popularity and in infamy due to its contentious nature; lauded by tourists but condemned by environmentalists. Whale shark watching started last September 2011 and it became popular all over the world when the news hit in the internet last November 2011.

            The interaction with the whale shark is held from 6:00 AM – 12:30 PM each day but visibility is best from 7:00 – 9:00 AM that’s why it is highly recommended to place it on top of your itinerary. The area for whale shark watching was no more than 20 meters from the shore, a swimmable distance.

TARIFF: (Note: This comes with a life vest, mask and snorkel)
  • P 500 each for local tourists
  • P 1, 500 each for foreign tourists
  • P 300 each for those who would stay only on the boats

         However, before the encounter we were given a brief orientation of the do’s and don’ts in whale shark interaction. Here’s the list:
  • No feeding of whale sharks by unauthorized personnel.
  • Do not touch, ride or chase a whale shark. In case the whale shark will go towards you, DON’T PANIC, just let them pass.
  • Do not restrict normal movement or behavior of the shark.
  • Do not use flash photography.
  • Do not create a splash when entering the water.
  • Do not apply sunscreen if you are going to swim with the whale sharks.
  • Viewing and swimming is limited to 30 – 45 minutes ONLY.
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 5 meters from the head and 6 meters from the tail.
  • ONLY paddle boats are allowed.

How to Get There:
  • Via Cebu City:
Go to the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City, which is 30 minutes away from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport then hop on an Oslob bound bus and asked to be dropped at Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu.

  • Via Dumaguete City:
            From Dumaguete City take a multicab going to Sibulan Seaport to catch a ferry or pumpboat across the Tañon Strait which separates Negros Oriental from Cebu. Once already at the Lilo-an, Santander, Cebu Seaport you may take a bus, a multicab or a tricycle depending on your preference going to Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob.

Travel Tips:
  • Go there on a weekday and be early because there are fewer people and there’s more time for you and the whale shark.
  • Bring your own snorkel. (For hygienic purposes)
  • Wear something decent swimming attire or a rashguard. (It’s too embarrassing to walk along the shore and at the briefing center and remember sunblock is not allowed, so it’s best to protect your skin.
  • Make sure to bring an underwater camera and capture those memories.

For more photos, kindly visit: Queen City of the South: Cebu (Oslob)

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