Cebu Island – Snorkeling with whale sharks in Oslob

Tuesday 28/11 (1/2)

We arrive in Santander, where our hotel (Eden Resort) is located. I take a tricycle with the luggage while the others take a shortcut (200m) to the resort, on foot. Nice resort, with an infinity pool. Nice view on the sea from our room, with a nice balcony. Kids have their own room; they are happy to chill, watching Nickelodeon on tv.

We have lunch around 2:30pm. Free afternoon. A bit of swimming pool for us while the kids stay in their room. We also inquire about diving in Oslob (with whale sharks, and around the Sumilon island); we decide to snorkel with the whale sharks (we are not convinced that diving will add more: we’ll be much closer to the whale sharks in snorkeling).

We eat early tonight (7:30pm) to be able to sleep early since we have to wake up very early tomorrow morning.

I post the 2 last posts on Japan (summaries of Tokyo and of Japan). The good news is that I’ll be able to include the related guidebooks in the next shipment back to Belgium (and accordingly travel lighter…).


Wednesday 29/11

By Jules:

Aujourd’hui, on s’est réveillé super super tôt. Il était vers 5h30 du matin et on a été directement dans la voiture pour aller voir des requins-baleines. La voiture, c’était cool parce que c’était ouvert derrière. C’est presque comme si on était dehors. On est arrivé aux requins-baleines où on pouvait les voir, mais on était encore sur la terre. On a écouté le briefing: il ne faut pas les toucher, il faut rester à 4 mètres, etc. Il fallait pas faire beaucoup de choses. Bref, finalement, on a été dans le bateau. Il y avait beaucoup de monde, et on savait voir les ailerons des requins-baleines sortir de l’eau et leur bouche s’ouvrir au-dessus de l’eau. C’était super cool. Et alors, on a été dans l’eau, et la seconde où on était dans l’eau, il y en avait 3 ou 5 autour de nous. Et ils étaient beaux. C’était super cool. En fait les bateaux, ils donnaient à manger. C’est pour cela que c’était un truc touristique et c’est pour cela que les ‘whale sharks’ venaient. Mais quand même, c’était « Waow ». Quand un partait, il y en avait des autres qui revenaient et il y en avait vraiment beaucoup. On prenait des photos, et Florence allait se faire avaler parce qu’on prenait une photo et puis le requin baleine est venu derrière elle et il ouvrait sa bouche et Florence s’est retournée et l’a vu à ½ mètre et a commencé à paniquer. Elle ne pouvait pas palmer parce qu’elle était tout près et elle allait le toucher. Alors elle a bougé avec les bras et finalement elle est sortie. Et c’était rigolo. Puis on a pris des autres photos et c’était super chouette. On est remonté dans le bateau après ½ heure. Puis on a sauté dans la voiture et on est retourné au resort. Le resort avait une piscine. C’était super beau. On avait la vue sur la mer et on voyait le coucher de soleil et c’était « waow ». On a mangé parce qu’on avait un peu faim (en tous cas moi, j’avais un peu faim) après tout cela et c’était fatiguant. Et puis après, on a mangé. Moi, j’ai mangé des céréales (elles étaient vraiment mauvaises). Puis on était cool. On était dans la chambre, on a regardé la télé, puis on a travaillé pendant 3h. Puis on était cool pour le reste de la journée. On a mangé, on a fait un petit saut dans la piscine, un petit plouf, puis on a été dormir. 


By me:

We wake up a bit after 5am. Today we go and see the whale sharks. I can write this with certainty (99% guaranteed) since Oslob (more precisely Tan-awan village, which is 10 km away from Oslob) is a place where they feed the whale sharks every day from 6am to noon.

The main reason the whale sharks visit Oslob everyday, and keep returning, is because they’re getting fed. Everyday fishermen attract the sharks to the site by feeding them one type of krill that they purchase in bulk. Because of this the whale sharks are now spending up to 6 hours feeding in Oslob, losing out on some of the key nutrients that they gain from foraging naturally.

Background of this phenomenon: Fishermen using shrimps as bait would find whale sharks approaching their hook and lines to try and feed of the bait. The fishermen tried various methods, including throwing rocks, to try and stop the disruption. In Tan-awan, the fishermen discovered that they could lead the whale sharks away from fishing boats by luring them with small amounts of krill. A dive centre owner discovered this and paid the fishermen to lure the whale sharks towards his guests instead of away. The news spread by word of mouth and many people started visiting Oslob to see the whale sharks. In December 2011, the Daily Mail newspaper from the UK featured an article with photographs of a man riding a whale shark, and tourism in the small village exploded.

The whale sharks watching is well organized. Boats of 8-10 are leaving every 10’ or so. They go along the boats of the fishermen who are feeding the whalesharks. As soon as we jump into the water, what a spectacle! It’s impressive: we have at all times at least 2 whale sharks in our sight. These beautiful creatures are swimming so close to us (less than one meter!); I could not even fit them into a picture… They’re so used to having people around they don’t mind being mere 20 cm away from the boat/people as long as they get to eat their food being thrown by the feeders/boatmen in charge. There’s a “rule” to be 4 m away from them but I believe this is impossible to attain as the boats themselves stay just a couple of meters from where they are being fed and in our case the feeders throw the food near our boat which of course causes the whale sharks to come to us and it’s hard to get away from them when you are being blocked by the boat.

Our allowed 30’ passed too quickly. But we had such a great time! Wow! Definitely one of the main highlights of the trip! The whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, are so impressive and they come so close to us. It’s touristic but it’s an unforgettable experience. We enjoyed so much that we change our mind regarding the diving with the whale sharks: we will come back tomorrow, to dive with them this time. We think that it must be a fantastic experience, quite complementary with the one we’ve just had.

Back to the hotel at 7:30am. We take the breakfast before starting homeschooling. I try to select the pictures that I took underwater this morning (as well as the ones from our snorkeling with the turtles in Apo Island, which were on Florence’s iPhone).

We stay at the hotel the whole day, eating the 3 meals there.


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