Getting up this morning was painful. The alarm went off at 4:50am, a time I have not seen for a long time and hope not to be seeing again! We planned to go swimming with whale sharks today and after chatting to a few other tourists we got the impression that unless you got there at opening time (6am) it would be too busy. So there we was at the crack of dawn riding on the back of a tricycle to get there early.
It seemed we were not the only ones with this plan. We pulled up at just gone 6 and already there was well over 100 people waiting to go out on the boats. We should of stayed in bed.
Swimming with the whale sharks is one of the most popular things to do on the island of Cebu. It’s also one of the most controversial. We were on the fence as to whether we should go as if you read online you’ll realise that it’s a bit cruel. Basically these whale sharks are fed daily to keep them close to the shore so that tourists can be taken out to swim with them. It’s big business for whoever owns this operation, we worked out they probably make £15,000 per day, which in the Philippines is a huge amount.
After boarding our little boat and paddling out about 15 meters we were free to jump in and snorkel for 30 minutes. Within about 5 seconds of entering I was faced with one of the whale sharks and the sheer size of it was a lot to take in. They’re around 4 meters long, covered in spots and apart from having an unusually shaped mouth they look quite similar to a shark. I had to keep reminding myself they don’t eat humans!
We must have seen around 6 or 7 different whale sharks swimming around. They occasionally stopped to munch on whatever the staff were pouring off the end of the boats. I have to say they didn’t look phased at all by what must have been 100 tourists legs flapping around above them. People argue though that by artificially feeding them it causes them to congregate in this area which disrupts their natural migration. I can see their point but we live in a world where making money will always prevail. So just like the elephant riding in Thailand, I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
Getting up so early really messed with our heads, we couldn’t believe it was only 7:30 when we got back! Other than the whale sharks, there really is nothing else to do in Oslob. There’s no beach, nowhere to walk, no nearby towns to visit, no shops and only a handful of shack type cafes. This meant we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the balcony in between watching 9 episodes (yes 9!!) of Blacklist. I’ll probably have some strange dreams tonight involving Raymond Reddington being eaten by a whale shark 🙂