Travel Guide

Oslob Whale Shark Swimming, the Good, the Unhealthy and the Ugly.

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Close to the city Oslob on the southern tip of Cebu island within the Philippines swimming with whale sharks has develop into an enormous attraction and booming tourism business. The large distinction between swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and lots of different websites within the Philippines and over the world is the provisioning of the whale sharks right here. At Oslob the boatmen feed the whale sharks with shrimps, luring them to the boats for vacationers to swim with. Drawing lots of of vacationers day-after-day this draw card may be very controversial. The advantages for the neighborhood is plain, this common exercise and large influx of money lifted this coastal neighborhood out of poverty. Conservationists and animal lovers are apprehensive in regards to the affect that swimming with the whale sharks and feeding them may have on the world’s greatest fish. What’s extra necessary, defending these endangered animals or creating jobs on this poor neighborhood? Does swimming have an effect on these animals? See our article evaluating Swimming with Whale Sharks at Totally different Places within the Philippines.

Whale shark at Oslob
Whale shark at Oslob consuming ‘uyap’ from a kayak with some photographers round.

Must you swim with the whale sharks at Oslob? Right here we offer you a few of the arguments defending and criticizing this exercise, hopefully it would aid you make your individual choice.

Oslob whale shark watching – The Experience

Oslob in Cebu was the primary web site the place we went swimming with whale sharks within the Philippines. The whale shark tourism heart is a small fishing village Tan-awan, which is 10 km away from the city of Oslob.

In Tan-awan native fishermen lured whale sharks away from their boats by feeding them krill. Divers found this and began paying the fishermen to lure the whale sharks to their boats. In 2011 pictures of snorkelers with whale sharks have been printed in a giant worldwide newspaper and snorkeling with whale sharks in Oslob began. 177 Former fishermen in partnership with native authorities fashioned an organization the Oslob Whale Sharks (OWS) and are nonetheless working whale shark tourism on this city.

The day began with a obligatory briefing that features all of the dos and don’ts of snorkeling with the sharks comparable to no touching the animals, snorkelers are usually not allowed to come back nearer than Three meters (9 toes) from a shark’s head and four meters (13 toes) of its tail and no flash images.

Feeding of the whale sharks occurs from 6 am to 1 pm day-after-day. We have been taken to the feeding web site, a shallow coral reef in about 10 meters of water simply over 50 meters off shore in small outrigger canoes. About 15 canoes fashioned a line and began throwing krill regionally known as ‘uyap’ into the water. The whale sharks instantly approached our boat and vacationers climbed into the water.

Snorkelers put on life jackets and no fins, aiming to stop diving in the direction of the sharks, getting to shut and touching sharks. SCUBA divers enter from the shore or include visiting dive boats, they moor exterior the interplay space.

It truly is a bit chaotic with greater than 50 folks within the water, most with cameras and attempting to get into the image with a whale shark. I heard that they have been feeding the whale sharks over right here and browse some unhealthy critiques, however the experience was worse than I anticipated. Swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob was not an genuine nature experience and I’ll classify it as the identical form of tourism as driving an elephant in Thailand. The sharks weren’t swimming like they do within the wild they have been hanging vertically within the water, being fed from the boat surrounded by vacationers in orange life jackets attempting to get into the picture.

The Good

There may be positively a very good half.

From this part it may be seen that there isn’t a doubt in regards to the large optimistic affect the whale shark swimming business has in town of Oslob, the village Tan-awan and the  surrounding space. Research additionally present that funds generated from whale shark tourism are channeled in the direction of defending the whale sharks and coral reef sources the livelihoods of this neighborhood now rely on.

The Guardian Newspaper acknowledged that 60% of the enterprise is owned by the fishermen and 10% by the native village of Tan-awan, 30% of the earnings go to the native authority which makes use of the funds to make use of sea wardens defending the coast.

Analysis carried out by Lowe and Tejada by way of stakeholder interviews with artisanal fishers, their neighborhood, native authorities and politicians and the sustainable livelihoods have been utilized in a examine on the affect of the whale shark swimming business on the energetic hoods of the neighborhood. Greater than 750 000 folks got here to swim with the whale sharks producing $18.4m in ticket gross sales over the primary 5 years. The fishers and native authorities at the moment are defending the whale sharks and coral reef sources their livelihoods rely on.

The Unhealthy

Personally I can say I didn’t take pleasure in swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob. I’ve encountered many wonderful marine animals within the wild and won’t group this experience in that class, it felt like one thing between an amusement park and a giant zoo. I used to be not pleased with being a part of supporting the business.

There weren’t many whale sharks swimming round, they have been principally hanging vertical within the water feeding from the boats.

Whale sharks are at present an endangered species protected within the Philippines. There are issues concerning the unfavorable affect of whale shark tourism on the well being, conduct and migration of the species.

Many worldwide marine conservation organizations have criticized the whale shark excursions in Oslob describing it as a non-sustainable type of tourism. A number of research printed confirmed that residency, migration and conduct at Oslob have been influenced by feeding whale sharks comparable to this by Thompson 2017.

The primary issues with feeding the whale sharks at Oslob are

  • Malnutrition attributable to a scarcity in range of their diets, they solely eat krill loosing out on key elements of their pure weight loss plan.
  • Change in Conduct – Sharks have learnt to affiliate boats and folks with meals and now actively method them, even within the absence of meals. Boat propellers can hurt the sharks coming too shut. Touching the sharks take away the mucous layer defending them in opposition to infections.
  • The whale sharks have been proven to spend extra time on the floor being fed inflicting stress and making them extra susceptible to illness.
  • Staying in a single place can affect migration and breeding patterns reducing their likelihood of mating and reproducing
The 15 boats on this image had about 70 folks on the market at a time.

Research have additionally proven that the extraordinary whale shark tourism results in degradation of the coral reefs. This destruction of the reef is horrible, however in line with the World Financial Discussion board turning away from fishing to whale shark tourism as supply of revenue ends in a lower in Unlawful and harmful fishing, involving dynamite, cyanide, fish traps and drift gill nets defending the reef and different species

However is it that Unhealthy?

In a latest evaluation of research that declare a unfavorable affect of this
business on the ecology of whale sharks, Dr Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science primarily based in Perth confirmed that these research are characterised by a scarcity of baselines, restricted methodological approaches and poor interpretation of outcomes.

Affect on migration

  • Dr Meekan identified that research confirmed the sharks in neighboring Donsol keep resident there for even longer intervals of time though there isn’t a feeding to maintain them there.
  • A really small group of sharks stayed resident in Oslob, the examine displaying residency confirmed solely 9 of 208 sharks stayed in Oslob for longer intervals of time.

Change in Behaviour

He additionally mentioned that there isn’t a proof that feeding the sharks results in a change in conduct comparable to vertical swimming and approaching boats. Since this behaviour additionally occurs at websites the place there isn’t a provisioning of the whale sharks.

In conclusion this evaluation mentioned there isn’t a scientific proof that provisioning at Oslob harms whale sharks.

Whether or not there may be scientific proof that this apply is dangerous to the whale sharks or not, that is positively not eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is meant to permit people within the animal’s surroundings with minimal affect, feeding these animals and domesticating them within the course of with greater than 90% of vacationers not adhering to the foundations given on the briefing is unquestionably not minimal affect.

The Ugly

Most Folks Simply Don’t Care

Many research, weblog posts and articles have been printed criticizing whale shark tourism in Oslob. In a examine carried out by Ziegler et al. (2018 ) it was proven that vacationers have been conscious of the potential unfavorable affect however nonetheless went forward swimming with the whale sharks, many loved it’s labeled as a ‘responsible pleasure’. Doing one thing unhealthy though you recognize what you’re doing since you take pleasure in it.

The opinion of Dr Meekan, a fish ecologist with 25 years of experience, in reviewing the research carried out is ‘As there isn’t a proof that provisioning negatively impacts the ecology of whale sharks at Oslob, the central declare of the work by Ziegler et al. (2018) that vacationers visiting the location ought to really feel responsible about having fun with their experience is just not grounded in actuality. Moreover, the argument that native communities are solely motivated by cash and are performing unethically by pursuing this business is completely unfounded and an unjustified slur on their reputations.’

Regardless that proof about how unhealthy that is for the sharks is just not conclusive, I can’t swim with the whale sharks right here once more or advocate it. After experiencing the whale shark circus swimming with whale sharks in Oslob, it’s troublesome for me to consider it doesn’t have a unfavorable affect on the sharks.

Is it simply due to the feeding?

If the feeding doesn’t change the behaviour of the whale sharks in Oslob, I have no idea if the animals at different common whale shark watching websites are a lot better off.

We additionally swam with the whale sharks at Donsol, 390 km away. Right here there isn’t a feeding of the whale sharks, boats cruise across the large bay looking for whale sharks, guidelines are just one boat per whale shark. That means there could be 1 whale shark 6 vacationers and 1 information (BIO). Vacationers should keep 3m from the whale shark. We spent Three days on a ship cruising by way of the bay with out seeing a whale shark, however the boats have been in fixed contact. We noticed one whale shark on the best way residence, on the finish of our final day. I jumped in instantly and had a few seconds with the animal earlier than it dived to deep. A few different boats instantly arrived, however simply to late.

Primarily based on how fast different boats arrived after we noticed one shark and on many critiques telling tales of as much as eight boats arriving with greater than 40 folks round a single shark, getting very near the animal, it doesn’t sound just like the animals are higher off at this web site with no feeding than at Oslob.

Swimming with whale sharks at websites with much less folks comparable to Leyte appears to be a extra genuine experience. The quantity of individuals swimming with the whale sharks at Oslob appears to be at the least as huge an issue because the feeding of the animals. Drastically limiting the quantity of individuals within the water and far tighter regulation of snorkelers appears like an amazing place to begin to defend the animals with out destroying the business feeding the neighborhood.

Lodging in Oslob

  • Price range – La Lune Oslob Hostel Located in Oslob, pleasant homeowners, good rankings dormitory for a cut price. fast bus trip from Tanawan
  • Mid vary – Susada’s Inn Situated in Tanawan, excellent location for whale shark watching in Oslob just some minutes stroll. New, clear, good hosts, nice rankings.
  • Gingging resort and resort is situated in Oslob and contains a terrace and a bar. 3-star resort, properly value

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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