Oslob, Cebu Whale Sharks Encounter
Part of me felt that my postponed trip to Japan was a good thing. I didn’t mind my colleague’s advice to just cancel my 2-week vacation leave and go to work instead.
The time that my trip to Japan was postponed, I told Mica about it and she didn’t hesitate to invite me on their Cebu-Bohol getaway. I was very happy when I booked my first flight of the year. The main highlight of our trip was Bohol, but since our flight was to Cebu and our friend Maire was dying to see the whale sharks (locally known as butanding), we comprised Oslob in our itinerary.
We woke up around 3:30 a.m. and left Sugbutel without fixing ourselves around 3:45 a.m. We met Matt, a young traveler from Canada whom Mica met in Thailand, and he was already waiting at the lobby. Man, he’s cute. He traveled to Cebu just to see the whale sharks and visit Bohol.
There were no jeepneys during that time and the security guard told us to just ride a cab going to South Bus Terminal. We took an ordinary Ceres bus and the fare was around Php 145.00. It was a 2 ½-hr ride to Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob.
The bus ride was a like a wind as the driver was very competitive on the road. It was really fast and we had to hold onto our seat tight for the whole time. My butt was also sliding from left to right, then right to left for about an hour. Nonetheless, it was pretty much enjoying.
On our way, the view was very nice. Below the dark sky was a golden glimpse of horizon. The bus conductor was very alert to remind us that we’re already in Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob. We arrived around 6:30 a.m. and immediately assisted by the restaurant owner and brought us to the guides.
There was registration then briefing. The fees were quite hilarious, I wouldn’t mind if the camera fee was only Php 50 but heck it was Php 100, what made more hilarious was the snorkeling fee. By the way, you don’t need to pay if you don’t have an underwater camera.
Here is the breakdown of fees:
Php 300.00 – Whale shark watching fee
Php 100.00 – Underwater camera fee
Php 50.00 – life vest
Php 100.00 – snorkeling set
Php 20.00 – snorkeling fee
Php 10.00 – shower fee
We were shortly briefed about rules when whale watching:
Do not touch the whale sharks or ride them.
No lotion or sunblock! They say it might poison them.
No flash photography.
Minimal movements only to avoid bubbles.
Viewing is 30 minutes only.
After briefing, we changed clothes and fixed ourselves. EXCITED much! Geared with our poor cameras we then headed to the boatmen and by the way, you can choose random boatmen to bring you in the watching site, we were there around 7:15 a.m.
We saw one that was being fed by the boatman. It was lovely! I was very excited upon see them personally. There was funny little thing though, my excitement has somehow turned into fear by the time I submerged in the water. OMG Bitch, their mouth is like a big vacuum which looked like it would suck you and EEEEKK it was getting near me! SCARY fish!
I was frightened during the first 5 minutes of snorkeling, I was like, “Omg omg omg!! Here it comes! Here it comes!” And I would frantically swim away.
The whale shark was just beside me and I was being too careful not to touch it. I wouldn’t want to touch it not just because the rules says so, but because it felt like it would wiggle and strongly slap you with its tail when you do.
The boatmen said, “Di ka kakainin nyan..” (It will not eat you) I was stupid enough to forget that they are gentle giants. There was a noticeable odor everytime I get near them, it smelled like fish. I thought whale sharks are mammals but I figured out they aren’t. They are fish.
All of a sudden I remembered that we only have 30 minutes to interact with the whale sharks. My fear then shriveled and I bravely conquered the water.
I have a DiCAPac (an underwater SLR case) which I really didn’t like, because the last time I used it my D60 broke. DiCAPac for SLR was the worst invention ever. I was struggling to use it and I couldn’t take pretty photos!! I made a big mistake for buying this, next time I will be buying a real underwater camera.
A tourist attempting to touch the whale shark..
Will I go back to Oslob? Definitely yes. There were only 3 whale sharks that time, and I want to see more. The boatmen said that the day before we went there were 8 of them. How bold it will be swimming with the 8 gentle giants. Plus, the fact that I have a wrong camera settings, I want to have a clear shots of them next time.
They are yet the loveliest sea creatures I’ve ever met. Although, I believe that this practice (boatmen feeding the whale sharks) is not right. To enlighten you, you may read this article as well: Stop feeding whale sharks in Oslob.