Sunday, October 28, 2012

Whale Sharks of Oslob, Philippines

guest post by Lakbay Diva

Whale shark off the coast in Oslob, Cebu
I felt my skin quivering, despite the hot mid-morning sun was beating down on me. It was because this giant creature was slowly inching its way towards me, with its massive mouth opening and closing trying to catch all those krill that the fisherman gave it, and its massive body creating strong undertow that pushes me out.

While one of these creatures was right in front of me, I noticed another huge shadow swimming right below me. If I had a heart monitor on, it would have exploded. Imagine two of these huge gigantic creatures closing in on me? My heart was pumping fast and I felt dizzy. I froze floating in the sea and said to myself, ‘Oh God, is this my end?’Is this how Jonas must have felt when he was about to be swallowed by a huge fish?

They weren't about to eat me though, they didn't bite or swallow me whole as what I've imagined, and what other gory stuff I thought these huge fish would do to me. The one closest just veered away just about a feet away from me when he finally saw me with its cute, small eyes. The one below continued its search for food, mistaking the bubbles of the divers oftentimes as its favorite diet.
One of the many reasons to visit the Philippines
Later on, as the fear subsided and boldness and sense of adventure took over, I swam and dived with the whale sharks, trying to capture them with my underwater camera. I saw their massive gills excreting the water it takes in when it swallows its food. I saw the groupie fish that follows it everywhere it goes. I became a groupie myself – followed them whale sharks wherever they went. It came with a price though. I got hit one time by the tail as I was swimming in its way to the food. It just felt like a log was rolled over me.

A few minutes more and the guide told us our time was over. I wanted to stay longer, but the guide said rules are rules. I said goodbye to the whale sharks and vowed that this, aside from my most recent harrowing experience in Binuthan Cave, Cebu, is my unforgettable experience in my entire life so far. 

Note: The author is against the feeding of the whale sharks as it modifies their behavior. The practice is unsustainable and has harmed some of the whale sharks; poaching, aggression, and injury are clear and present danger for these gentle giants. On the other hand, the author witnessed this strange phenomenon of the deep connection between the whale sharks and the fisher-folks – a contentious claim, but apparently true all the same. It is fairly easy to just sit down and criticize things, to be an armchair activist, but it doesn’t bear any results – just more misunderstanding and contempt. The best recourse should be that the LGU would listen to the suggestions of the experts, and alternative solutions be provided to the fisher-folks in lieu of this new-found livelihood. For more information, please read:

About the Author

Lakbay Diva is the author of an online travel mag, Lakbay DivaObviously, Diva likes to dive, snorkel, skim, and other sports like T.V., radio, cassette and washing machine. If you do like my entry, please visit the site Chos!


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