Saturday, November 19, 2011

South of Cebu Dive Log: Diving with Whalesharks in Oslob

I have a never ending affair with whalesharks. I don't know what's up with these gentle giants, but they just simply amaze me.

A few weeks ago, I spent four days out at sea, in Leyte in search of whaleshark, seen none but instead saw pilot whales, dolphins, seahorses, turtlessss....  (read my Leyte Dive Log).  Sometime last year, we also ventured in Pescador Island, Moalboal, Cebu to see thresher sharks feasting on sardines, some divers in the group were too lucky to also chance upon a whaleshark and caught it on video.

This time, news broke amongst the diver community that there have been whaleshark sightings in the south of Cebu.   My dive peers went ahead immediately after our Leyte trip, while I was recuperating from an ear infection.  The following weekend, I had to gather my family and some friends to join me on an early morning two and half hour drive down south of the city.

We left at 4:30 in the morning, passed along General Maxilom Avenue and found party people still up and about while we are awake for a new day.  Two hours later we arrived at our jump off point, just in time for the seven o' clock feeding time.  The owner gave us a short briefing.  We were told that these whalesharks are actually resident whalesharks and the local fishermen have been feeding them for the past two years.  (But the fishermen says it's just for the past 6 months.)  These spotters (local fishermen) look for it and pour food (as bait) so it follows them nearer to the shore.
paddle boats

While us divers, swam out from the shore, non-divers were escorted to take the small banka (paddle boats).  These banka are small and could hardly carry one passenger, no safetly facility like life vest is available.
snorkling with whalesharks

It took longer for me to gear up with shore entry than finding myself in the midst of a baby whaleshark.  Just two minutes into the dive, the whaleshark was just there, unmidful of the banka and people around.  On the surface, the fishermen were feeding it with some shrimps and krill - that kept it on the surface for a long time. 
The local fishermen allowed people to touch it.  Kids aged 5, 7 and 8 were able to pet it from the banka without having to get wet.  I dove around it for an hour, without needing to chase it.  The waters are crystal clear, one can actually admire it from a distance.  In previous days, there are have been sightings of up to three whalesharks, but this time, seas were kinda rough and makes it harder for the spotter to look for them.
feeding them shrimps

There is no existing ordinance to protect these gentle giants in the area.  The locals are neither educated how to protect these.  The locals are definitely not ready to accept the influx of tourists.  I fear that doing this commercially at this time might harm these gentle giants.  Nevertheless, it's a joy to know that they are here.

Sorry, I'm not comfortable to divulge exactly where this is, not until an ordinance is passed.

from bottom up

Post Trip Accounting:

P100/pax Spotter fee
P100/pax Boat rental
P75/pax Resort fee
P2000/2dives Diving fee

As there are no decent place we can purchase food in the area, we brought our own food.

P3800 whole Cang's lechon


looney planeteer said...

WOW! very beautiful and sad at the same time.

i will figure out how to get to this place tomorrow. must be there before the morning feeding time then. no idea which town and which barrio to get off in the south. good luck to me!

thanks for the post. greatly help in my quest for a first encounter with the gentle giants of the sea.

Freeze said...

You're welcome. Save the whalesharks of oslob.

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