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The experience of whale watching in Oslob Cebu is more interactive than many people realize. The most exciting part, surprisingly, is actually the whale shark, commonly called butanding in Sorsogon or Tuki by the local fishermens in Oslob Cebu.
Close Encounter with Butanding by Erwin de Leon
These Whale sharks are actually the largest shark in the world. People called it a whale shark because of its enormous size (like a whale), not because it’s a type of whale. It is just being called a Whale shark because of the close resemblance they have to whales. They are characterized by their flattened head, wide mouth, and docile nature.
Its more fun in Oslob Cebu
We left Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort early to meet the rest in Oslob for our Tuki Interaction. The town of Oslob is located in Southern part of Cebu and was recently became a popular tourist spot with the discovery of these friendly whale sharks in the clear waters of Oslob.
From Ester Pension, we left our things then proceeded to the registration area to have safety orientation before heading to the boat. I was pleased when I found out that the local government is already implementing some rules and guidelines for the visitors and boatmens. The local government of Oslob was questioned earlier this year when a photo showing a girl riding on top of a whale shark surfaced the social media sites.
Its more fun in the Philippines
Whale watching begins at around 5am but knowing how tired we were from a week of fun and adventure, we chose not to do it early in the morning. Of course, a fee is charged followed by a short orientation that spells out the whale watching etiquette.
Philippine Travel Mart 2012 Banner Underwater by Erwin de Leon
The visitors guidelines was created to protect the whale sharks. Here are some of the guidelines they discussed to us :
- Visitors needs to stay 5 meters away from the Whale Shark
- They are not Tarsier but still No to Flash Photography
- Sunscreen lotion is poisonous to the Whale Sharks… and Yes Tanning lotions too
Underwater Police are all over the place to make sure that no one violates the guidelines. Violators will have to pay penalty charges or get involved in community service.
Playful Whale Sharks
Upon reaching the viewing area, I was really amazed on what i saw. There are so many whale sharks surrounding our boat and some of them are just following other boats for food. What I like in Oslob is that you don’t have to dive deep just to see the whale sharks as they are visible in the shallow and clear waters unlike in Sorsogon.
Tuki Interaction in Oslob by Erwin de Leon
When you are out there in the sea it does take long for the whale sharks to appear. These giants of the sea bravely approach the fishing boats and wait as though they are expecting something. The fishermen treat the whale sharks as pets, building trust by being there often and posing no threat; the whale sharks calmly swim to the boats.
Whale Shark following the Boat
You can actually reach out and touch them, but unfortunately the rules state that only the fishermen are allowed any kind of contact with the whales. Feeding is also not allowed. Attempting to pet the whale sharks could result in a stampede out of the area, preventing other visitors the opportunity to see the whale sharks. I guess with some people rules are meant to be broken. I saw a bout full of yuppies who are applying sunblock as if there’s no tomorrow.
Hawaiian Dancers at Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa
The excitement of the occasion has been known to cause some people to jump in the water and swim with the whale sharks, as they are not dangerous to humans. If you ever dare, just remember to steer clear of the huge tail fin and its big mouth. Although I stayed on the boat while the rest are swimming, I still enjoyed Whale watching since they are very visible from where I was seated.
After our close encounter with Whale Sharks in Oslob we headed to Laguna Restaurant in Cebu City to have lunch with the officials of the Department of Tourism Region VII. For our last activity, we visited the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa for a resort inspection and dinner.
Living Room at Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa
The whole 6 days of waking up early, food trip, resort inspections, adventure activities and land trips are truly unforgettable. Its probably one of best trips I joined so far. After our dinner, we proceeded to the Mactan International Airport. While the rest took their flight back to Manila, I decided to have my ticket rebooked and extend my stay in Cebu. I just need a complete rest and a little bit of detoxification:)
I would like to thank Mr Cesar Cruz and the rest of PHILTOA team for organizing this successful Central Visayas Familiarization Tour. I’m so grateful to be part of this activity which gave me a whole lot of exciting experiences like meeting new friends, discovering heritage and culture and tasting local food and delicacies.
PHILTOA is now getting ready for the annual Philippine Travel Mart 2012 which will be held on August 10-12, 2012 at the SMX convention center in Mall of Asia Complex.