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

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


Close to the city Oslob on the southern tip of Cebu island within the Philippines swimming with whale sharks has develop into a large attraction and booming tourism trade. The large distinction between swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and plenty 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 tons of of vacationers day-after-day this draw card may be very controversial. The advantages for the neighborhood is simple, this in style exercise and big influx of money lifted this coastal neighborhood out of poverty. Conservationists and animal lovers are fearful concerning 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.

Do you have to swim with the whale sharks at Oslob? Right here we offer you among the arguments defending and criticizing this exercise, hopefully it would enable you to make your personal choice.

Oslob whale shark watching – The Expertise

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 had 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 operating 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 corresponding to no touching the animals, snorkelers aren’t allowed to come back nearer than Three meters (9 ft) from a shark’s head and four meters (13 ft) of its tail and no flash pictures.

Feeding of the whale sharks occurs from 6 am to 1 pm day-after-day. We had 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 referred to 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 forestall 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 outdoors the interplay space.

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

The Good

There may be positively a great half.

From this part it may be seen that there isn’t a doubt concerning the large constructive affect the whale shark swimming trade 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 income go to the native authority which makes use of the funds to make use of sea wardens defending the coast.

Analysis performed by Lowe and Tejada by stakeholder interviews with artisanal fishers, their neighborhood, native authorities and politicians and the sustainable livelihoods had been utilized in a research on the affect of the whale shark swimming trade on the full of life hoods of the neighborhood. Greater than 750 000 individuals 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 get pleasure from swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob. I’ve encountered many wonderful marine animals within the wild and won’t group this expertise in that class, it felt like one thing between an amusement park and a giant zoo. I used to be not happy with being a part of supporting the trade.

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

Whale sharks are presently an endangered species protected within the Philippines. There are issues concerning the detrimental 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 had been influenced by feeding whale sharks corresponding to this by Thompson 2017.

The primary issues with feeding the whale sharks at Oslob are

  • Malnutrition because of an absence in variety of their diets, they solely eat krill loosing out on key elements of their pure eating regimen.
  • Change in Conduct – Sharks have learnt to affiliate boats and other people with meals and now actively strategy 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 weak to illness.
  • Staying in a single place can affect migration and breeding patterns reducing their probability of mating and reproducing
The 15 boats on this image had about 70 individuals 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 based on the World Financial Discussion board turning away from fishing to whale shark tourism as supply of earnings leads to a lower in Unlawful and damaging fishing, involving dynamite, cyanide, fish traps and drift gill nets defending the reef and different species

However is it that Unhealthy?

In a latest evaluate of research that declare a detrimental affect of this
trade on the ecology of whale sharks, Dr Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science based mostly in Perth confirmed that these research are characterised by an absence 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 regardless that there isn’t a feeding to maintain them there.
  • A really small group of sharks stayed resident in Oslob, the research displaying residency confirmed solely 9 of 208 sharks stayed in Oslob for longer intervals of time.

Change in Behaviour

He additionally stated that there isn’t a proof that feeding the sharks results in a change in conduct corresponding 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 evaluate stated there isn’t a scientific proof that provisioning at Oslob harms whale sharks.

Whether or not there’s scientific proof that this follow 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 atmosphere with minimal affect, feeding these animals and domesticating them within the course of with greater than 90% of vacationers not adhering to the principles 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 research performed by Ziegler et al. (2018 ) it was proven that vacationers had been conscious of the potential detrimental affect however nonetheless went forward swimming with the whale sharks, many loved it’s categorized as a ‘responsible pleasure’. Doing one thing dangerous regardless that you already know what you’re doing since you get pleasure from it.

The opinion of Dr Meekan, a fish ecologist with 25 years of expertise, in reviewing the research performed 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 positioning ought to really feel responsible about having fun with their expertise shouldn’t be grounded in actuality. Moreover, the argument that native communities are solely motivated by cash and are appearing unethically by pursuing this trade is fully unfounded and an unjustified slur on their reputations.’

Despite the fact that proof about how dangerous that is for the sharks shouldn’t be conclusive, I cannot 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 imagine it doesn’t have a detrimental 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 in style 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. Which means there can 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 the bay with out seeing a whale shark, however the boats had been in fixed contact. We noticed one whale shark on the way in which 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 opinions telling tales of as much as eight boats arriving with greater than 40 individuals 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 individuals corresponding to Leyte appears to be a extra genuine expertise. 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 seems like an incredible place to begin to defend the animals with out destroying the trade feeding the neighborhood.

Lodging in Oslob

  • Funds – La Lune Oslob Hostel Located in Oslob, pleasant house owners, good rankings dormitory for a discount. fast bus journey from Tanawan
  • Mid vary – Susada’s Inn Positioned in Tanawan, good location for whale shark watching in Oslob just some minutes stroll. New, clear, good hosts, nice rankings.
  • Gingging lodge and resort is positioned in Oslob and incorporates a terrace and a bar. 3-star lodge, properly worth

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