A Close Encounter with Whale Sharks in Oslob
After I’d failed to see whale sharks when we went to Donsol few years ago, I then planned to go on a trip to the southern part of Cebu, which is Oslob, to take a chance again to see this amazing sea creature. Compared to the whale shark watching in Donsol, the alike activity in Oslob can easily done because sightings of whale sharks are certain.
Tuki as how the whale shark is locally known in Oslob (also called as butanding in other parts of the Philippines) has already been a sighting on this quaint town more than years ago. The locals informed us that these sea creatures were once pest in the livelihood of fishermen as these creature destroy their boat. But presently, the local town of Oslob is now gaining on these once called pest as large numbers of tourists visit the town to see one thing, the whale sharks.
Whale sharks can be seen in a small barrio of Tan-awan, which is 10 km away from the center town of Oslob. The whale shark watching activity on this town is more orderly now compared to the first few years when the town had started to make it as part of their tourism effort.
Unlike before where there were still a lot of add-on fees to pay to experience a close encounter with whale sharks, the provincial tourism now imposes a one time payment. Whale shark watching alone costs PHP 300 per person but costs PHP 500 if you want to go snorkelling as well, which is inclusive of snorkelling gear. However, those standard fees are only applicable to locals, foreigners have to pay PHP 1,000 per person to experience the said activity.
Whale shark watching in Oslob can be done from 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM which lasts for 30 minutes. We were told that waves can get stronger at the later part of the day making it harder to see the whale sharks; so if you’re planning to make it as part of your travel plan when visiting Cebu then make it on top of your list.
It was around 10:00 AM when we visited the whale shark watching center and finally experience the popular sea activity in Oslob. There were a lot of tourists in the compound eager to see the huge animal during the time of our visit. No doubt how much popularity it has gained now after it was introduced online few years ago.
After we had registered and payed for the activity, we were oriented on important pointers about the activity. We were also told about the things to do and not to do during the close encounter with whale sharks. Few of which are no applying of sun block or any chemicals that can intoxicate the animal, no touching and getting near of the whale shark, no flash photography, no feeding and so other things. After the orientation, we then went to our designated boat and sailed few meters away to see the popular sea creature.
Few meters away from the shore and we already saw one.
Upon spotting a whale shark, my companions started jumping off the boat to see the amazing sea creature from the underwater. I then fixed my gear and excitedly jumped off the boat as well.
Finally, whale sharks!
The whale sharks seem not to be afraid of people, anymore. They look like domesticated already.
It’s true, sighting of whale sharks in Cebu is guaranteed and easy. It’s more certain if you follow where this boatman is sailing to (picture below). He feeds the whale sharks and I assume he does it so whale sharks stay on the area for the benefit of the visiting tourists to see them closely.
My whale shark encounter in Oslob is definitely one of the extraordinary experiences that I had. Getting close but not too close with these whale sharks is one of the superb minutes of my life.
Oslob is undoubtedly famous because of these whale sharks – making gain from its prominence, but I do hope that the provincial tourism can make improvements on this booming tourism activity yet keeping the wilderness of these creatures. I know, the two goals may sound contrasting but if we think of it, it’s the life and free will of these animals that still matter in the end.
After 30 minutes of snorkelling, we then went back to the shore feeling fulfilled and happy. Seeing clearly and closely how big these creatures are had really put us into amazement. Thank you Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort for letting us experience this wonderful encounter with whale sharks.