On the first month of 2012, I and bf went to Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu, to personally see and swim with the whale sharks there. There are reportedly fourteen of them that frequent the coast of the town.
Swimming with the whale sharks a.k.a butanding (tagalog) or tuki (bisaya) is such an awesome experience... and intimidating too! Of course, with its enormous size, being near it is not for the faint of heart. The first time I dipped, I didn't recognize I was so close I could almost touched it, so I quickly swam backwards! Forget I mentioned 'faint of heart'. Haha!
It took us about almost 5 hours to wait for our turn since there were so many people. Only one butanding [later two] showed up for the daily feeding. Yup, the controversial whale shark feeding is still going on. And I think it won't stop because doing so would mean no more whale sharks in the area, which would also mean no more additional (potentially huge) source of income for the fishermen/local government there. I just wish that no more harm will come to the 14 whale sharks, since news spread that two were badly injured (one by a motorboat's propeller, the other by a spear) and that the welfare of the sharks will be a priority. Seeing these sharks following the feeder boat like dogs begging for food is disgusting enough. Them being unsafe is sorrier. Oslob pipz? Hope you're listening!
Whale sharks are called gentle giants, I think basically because they don't eat humans. Hehe! These big creatures are filter feeders. They gulp on plankton-rich ocean water and expel it through their gills. The gills serve as strainers that filter the plankton from the water. When swimming with these creatures, best not to stay in front or risk being [unintentionally] gulped by the shark when filter feeding. One more thing, NO TOUCHING when swimming with these creatures. They maybe gentle but their animal instincts [defense mechanism] could sense touching as danger and ... only the sharks could tell. Haha!
I just wished that I had an underwater cam when I swam with the Butandings. Using the waterproof pouch was just pathetic! Ugh! Time to save up for one.
To the whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu, I wish you the best. Poseidon be with you.
TIPS TO GET THERE:
Go to Cebu South Bus Terminal and ride a bus bound for Bato/Oslob.
Ask kuya conductor that your bound for Tan-awan, Oslob, to see the whale shark and he knows the rest. ;)
Fare (Ceres Bus) -- P149 (non-AC), P155 (aircon)
Entrance fee: P100, only P50 at ate Marilyn's (contact number given upon request)
Life vest: P20 (ate Marilyn's)
Snorkel set: P100
* Do join and listen attentively to the orientation on the rules of Whale Shark Watching.
* Resorts (no names yet) are just beside the national road.
* I've heard that there's already a charge for bringing cameras. Whatda!
If you have queries, just leave a message on the comment box below and I'll get back to you the soonest I can. ;)