When you search Google for things you can do when in Cebu, swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob is among the most popular results. Most travel blogs about Cebu has a post or more about this particular activity and whether you are a foreigner looking for things to do, or a local simply looking for exciting things to do on a day off, swimming up close with these gentle giants would probably end up in your must-do list.
First things first. What are whale sharks?
When you see a huge fish with gray to brown back and sides, white spots with horizontal and vertical stripes, a white belly, and a pair of dorsal fins set backward, be aware that you are in the presence of one of these magnificent beasts.
On average, whale sharks get to be the size of a school bus, and are considered to be the biggest fish in the world. They are found in warm waters and despite being called whale sharks, they aren’t whales; they’re sharks. They’re only called whales due to their massive size. As for their diet, it includes little creatures such as krill, anchovies and plankton. Thankfully, they don’t eat humans.
Despite their daunting size, whale sharks are slow swimmers and are harmless to humans. They are often indifferent to your presence. As you swim up close to them, you might get tempted to touch or swim too close, which is a big no-no.
How do you approach whale sharks then?
Cebu whale shark watching 2019 has been a hit since the start of the year and continues to be so. More and more tourists are pouring in, eager to get a glimpse of these majestic gentle giants. You can rely on a reputable tour guide to tell you the things you should and shouldn’t do, but it would do you a lot of good to do your own homework before booking a tour. Here are helpful tips for your close encounter with whale sharks.
Bring the necessary gears, and don’t forget the life jacket.
Ensure that your goggles or snorkel are fit properly. If you don’t own any of these, you can rent one in the area. Don’t forget to bring your camera, but make sure it’s waterproof; you can also rent one in the area. Most of all, never get into the water without a life jacket on.
Don’t be too loud.
Resist the urge to jump from the boat and instead, slide slowly feet-first into the water. Reduce splash from your fins by keeping them under the water’s surface while you are kicking.
Always keep your distance.
Don’t touch the whale shark. You’ll be warned that if representatives from the DENR catch you, you will be faced with a fine. To prevent yourself from touching the whale shark, keep your distance. Show a healthy respect for the whale shark’s space, as its massive tail can swipe you hard.
Don’t chase the whale sharks.
Snorkel slowly and stay calm. Never chase a whale shark nor try to block its path. The whale shark swim by right next to you when your guides put feed into the water near you.
Avoid flash photography.
When taking pictures of a whale shark, avoid pointing your flash directly into its eyes. To be sure, let the guides take your photos so you can concentrate on looking at the whale sharks.
Avoid putting on sunblock, perfumes and other chemicals.
You are absolutely not allowed to put on perfumes and not even sun block, among other things. You will be required to take a shower before you head over to the beach. This is to avoid polluting the water with chemicals that are hazardous to the whale sharks.
You will have a 30-minute encounter with the whale sharks.
To ensure everyone gets a chance to see the whale sharks, the experience is limited to 30 minutes per boat. Whale watching also only lasts until noon and will start again the next morning. Thus, you will have the rest of the day to do whatever you fancy. Want to drop by a nearby waterfall? Better check the ultimate Cebu tour itinerary by Island Trek Tours for more activities.
Seeing these gentle giants up close can be an out-of-this-world experience, especially when you come early in the morning when water is still clear and there are yet less people around.
Come and get up close to them. It’s a very humbling experience.