Thursday, January 21, 2016

Suroy Cebu: Oslob Whaleshark Watching

Every year, my friends and I would plan for a trip somewhere outside Cagayan de Oro, and it’s always a YES for me being an adrenaline junkie that I am. Cebu was our destination for 2016. I have visited Cebu a number of times but was just never felt compelled to leave the city until recently.When in Cebu and itching for an adventure, touring down South is one of the ways to go. That’s why on our second day, we decided to head to Oslob to watch and swim with the gentle giants of the sea, the whalesharks, locally known as “butanding”.

Whale Sharks are slow-moving filter-feeding sharks (with a mouth like baleen whales) and the largest known species of fish in existence. They are gathered in a specific area by “bangkeros” (fishermen) that feed the gentle giants with krill (small saltwater shrimps) in the morning and noon. My friends and I had a 3AM call time to reach Oslob by 6 in the morning. I highly suggest you to do the same. Why? Because aside from saving yourself from the scorching heat, it’s also to prevent having photo bombers in your photos (and I’m sure you don’t want that, right? Lol) since most people go there late in the morning or in the afternoon. 

We had a quick briefing on safety guidelines while swimming with the whalesharks and waited for our turn to hop in to a boat going to the area. Looking out, the spot where you swim with the whalesharks is very close to the shore. Small boats line up to take in passengers and sent out to the encounter area. Once you get there, you just have to gentlty get off the boat and swim with the giants. This is actually my second time to do this fun adventure, but it still gave me the same feeling of having to swim with them for the first time. It is totally amazing! They are huge creatures, but such gentle giants too. You watch these creatures swim about peacefully as if they’re also enjoying the company of the people watching them in awe.
To swim close with the giants with my friends was definitely one for the books. We took the courage of removing our life jackets so we could swim freely in the water despite the big waves. Don’t worry, the water is extremely salty and it helps to keep you floating at the surface.

We tried to stay close to the boat as possible and just admire them from where we were. Sometimes they would pass by so close that we had to swim further to make sure we were out of their way. We are not allowed to touch them, by the way.
After swimming with the whalesharks, we took a bus to Matutinao for another adventure. Check it out my next blogpost!
Photos by: Bea Simagala and Rejeane Tan