Upclose with the Friendly Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu

Let me start this post by asking, how would you feel if you would see face to face a live whale shark?

I am very excited to share my new life adventure; I bet you have heard about the friendly whale sharks in Cebu. There had been news over the internet and on TV about these live creatures. It is really a great experience to personally see them swim with you.

The whale sharks, Butandings (Tagalog term) or Tuki as locally known are plankton eating mammals. There are whale sharks in some part of the Philippines and luckily, we have at most 14 in Oslob, Cebu. I had wanted to see them up close since last year. We originally planned to go there last January 22 yet because of some circumstances we moved it last February 5. Since I had just celebrated my 24th birthday last January 31, this was a wonderful gift. 

We left Cebu at three in the morning and reached Tan-awan, Oslob at five. There were a lot of people in the vicinity already; talks were it has been two days that the Butandings were not seen in the area so most of us were worried if we could actually see one. Everyone jumped for joy when a fisherman reported that they had seen one.

We have to get on our lines as soon as we arrived, finally got our tickets at seven, eat breakfast at eight then get to the briefing area and eventually headed on our boats. At the briefing area, the personnel read to us the 10 commandments:

1. No touching regardless of it being your hands, feet, fins, camera or pointer.

2. No riding.
3. Do not stay within 5m directly beside or behind their caudal fin or tail fin.
4. Do not block their path leading to the fishermen boats or out to sea.
5. Do not stay within 2m in front of the whale shark's mouth when feeding.
6. Refrain from heavy splashing.
7. Do not crowd the whale sharks, maximum of 6 people to one group taking turns to view the whale sharks is fair, overcrowding them will result in them evading the situation, thus not allowing others to view them.
8. Do not insult the fishermen by disobeying these rules. The fishermen that care for them have the right to penalize any divers or snorkelers caught abusing these rules, violators will be reported to the authorities.
9. For your safety, do not stay directly behind or on top of a whale shark as they are conscious of their surroundings and will move at any given time without warning.
10. They are curious creatures and will sometimes perceive you as a fisherman waiting to feed them, they can at times swim directly towards you and will stay beside you expecting to be fed, do not be afraid, but please do not feed them anything.

James and I dived in right away when we spotted the Butanding’s fin. We were very excited and I almost shouted for joy when one got very close. I wish to have ridden on it, made me also think of the Bible story about Jonah who was eaten by a huge whale. I had known that the two whale sharks which showed that day were named Tikoy (16 ft) and Fermin (18 ft).
beautiful creation!
up close with the whale shark
I had some chatting with our boat driver/guide and he said those gentle giants had been there since he was still a child. He was on his late thirties so they had been here for awhile. They had been asking for food when the fishermen are fishing and that had created the strange relationship between them. They never thought that these creatures would soon give name to their town.
i like this shot because of the little fishes in front.
Let me share my experience through the video we took:

Me and James at the entrance

Total Expenses:
Php 155 – Ceres Aircon Bus Cebu City to Tan-awan, Oslob
Php 300 – Whale Watching Ticket (non-Oslob)
Php 30 - Whale watching if you are from Oslob, bring with you your voter’s id.
Php 35 - Life jacket
Php 100 - camera fee if you have an underwater camera
Php 155 – Oslob to Cebu

Check my posts on our Oslob Adventure:


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