Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the world’s largest fish. For me, it is as big as a whale but not as monstrous as a shark. Whale sharks are found in tropical oceans and we are so blessed here in the Philippines for having them live freely in the open sea of Oslob, Cebu. With that, we attract tourists from all over the country and the world for whale shark watching which contributes to the source of employment to the locals of the municipality. Additionally, whale sharks have also become one of our country’s pride as we call ’em our butanding!
|Whale Shark in Philippine Peso Bill (Photo from Web)|
Since whale sharks are gentle and friendly as dolphins, snorkelers and scuba divers are fond of swimming with them. Sometimes, whale sharks can also be playful and take them for a ride at the back but this is already prohibited by law so not to harm the fish. Whale sharks are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected by Philippine laws namely, FAO 193, RA 8550, and RA 9147.(Source: Municipality of Oslob) So before watching and swimming with the whale sharks, an orientation was given by the municipal hall employees to the snorkelers, scuba divers, and even non-swimmers who will just be in the boat watching the fish.
Right after the orientation, race to the table by your left to pay for the fees because whale shark watching is in first come, first served basis. Even though you already registered in the log book, that won’t be honored ‘coz it is the government official receipt that’ll serve as your ticket. Thanks to Sir Dominic for assisting us!
As our boat steadied into the deep, we jumped into the waters to have our photo taken with the whale sharks. It was a great thing that the boatman who was assigned to us is camera-literate whose hands are not shaky at all. Hehe….. So we had good shots!
However, taking underwater shots is not as easy as what you’re seeing and might be thinking. It is so hard to hold your breath underwater! So aside from the best shots we have, we also have our flops and allow me to show ’em to you just for laughs. Haha!
Orientation starts at 6 AM every day, whale shark watching ends at 12 NN. Again, it is in first come, first served basis so better be early. In our case, we arrived before 6 AM which made our 30-minute whale shark encounter more enjoyable because the boatmen are still in high spirits, the sun is just rising, and the area is not yet packed with people. On Sundays, the area is actually crowded. Watching is P300 per pax and swimming is P500 per pax. Save some tip for the boatmen ‘coz they are really friendly and hospitable who gives in to all your whims!