The Gentle Giants — the Whale Sharks


I’m selachophobic, I’m afraid of sharks. I have never seen a shark before. Oh, wait, I had seen sharks but that would be around 2 ft and less, but even those little big-eyed monsters scare the hell out of me!

I admit, my phobia was influenced so much by the movies depicting goliath sharks as human-eaters. When I see even a picture or a drawing of a shark, I instantly flinch and move my body away from it. When I swim especially if I’m alone, I panic just by thinking about sharks and I instantly forget all my strokes and end up choking up a lot of water.

In my 23 years of existence, I never thought I would even see a gargantuan shark up-close and personal. That’s not even part of my wildest dreams!

But when I heard about a certain kind of shark that is totally harmless, I immediately thought “what the heck, is this for real?!”

I researched and found out about the gentle giants, the whale sharks. They grow up to 40 feet or the size of a big bus. Whale sharks are monstrously big but here’s the catch, they only eat planktons and some small fish that goes with it. Amazing, right?

When I knew that these gentle giants are just 130 km away from where I am staying, I definitely rounded up my friends to see them with my own two unbelieving eyes.

We stayed overnight at Oslob and early the next day we lined up to see the whale shark. It is 300 pesos per head or just 8 US dollars for the banca ride that will take you to the spot where the gentle giants bask in the sun.

As early as 5 in the morning, tourists swarm the place. As soon as you pay the fee you will be taken to a small tent wherein you will be briefed about the rules and regulations of whale shark watching.

After the briefing, I can’t hide my excitement already. I still have to endure the longest 30-minute wait of my life. And when the boatman signaled us to aboard the ship, my spirits went sky high. At last!

my snorkeling buddies

my snorkeling buddies

Meet my giant friend :)

Meet my giant friend 🙂

the gentle giant

the gentle giant

Who would have thought that I would, one day, swim with the very specie that I’m afraid of. I even chased its tail (I didn’t hold it, I just chased it). I took a lot of blind shots with my disposable underwater camera but due to its monstrosity, i cannot fit its whole body in the frame.

The feeling was so surreal. Amazingly, I didn’t feel any trace of fear. I just enjoyed the water, the mild heat of the sun, and the big friendly whale shark.

i chased its BIG tail (Photo Courtesy of my disposable underwater cam)

i chased its BIG tail (Photo Courtesy of my disposable underwater cam)

Whale shark watching is available in Oslob, a small town in the southern tip of Cebu Island, Philippines. You can book a flight from Manila to Cebu and from Cebu City you’ll have to take a bus or a hired car to take you to Oslob.

its sooo BIG! (Photo Courtesy of my disposable underwater cam)

its sooo BIG! (Photo Courtesy of my disposable underwater cam)

Published in Philippines, Scuba & Snorkel, Things to Do

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“I’m wild, young and free!” Sounds cliché but these words suits me best than any other words in the world. I’m wild, but not the kind of wild you see in rave parties and stuff. I’m wild in the sense that I am carefree. I have a wild passion for life. I do what I want, I go where I go...

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Comments

  1. Jennifer Choban

    So glad you got to have a good shark experience, Wynna. I haven’t got to see a whale shark yet, but I really want to. My best dive was a close up experience with a leopard shark.

  2. EJ Juen Jr

    Hi Wynna, that’s a fun experience! The biggest shark that I’ve seen so far is inside an aquarium in Ocean Park :).

    I’m crossing my fingers while hoping that nothing interferes our plan of going there in Cebu this May 12 to enjoy the same whale shark interaction. 🙂

  3. WYNNA Post author

    @jenstravels: yes, i read about your yoga with a shark. But leopard sharks are quite scary because they are not filter feeder so they still have a tendency to eat flesh. haha come and dive here in the Philippines so you’ll get to see the whale shark up close. 🙂

  4. WYNNA Post author

    @esjuenjr: you should come ASAP because the whale sharks might be gone soon. the fishermen had stopped feeding them because of an issue. You might have heard about it in TV Patrol.

  5. WYNNA Post author

    @mfalk75: No, of course not. The whale shark is as harmless as a statue. 🙂

    There was a photo from a facebook user and it has a lady standing on top of a whale shark (it seems like the girl was surfing). When I saw the photo, my heart bled. It was so cruel of them to tie the whale shark’s tail and made it like some animal in a circus. 🙁

  6. Michael Jon Falk

    Yeah, that is the problem with this type of activity and I hate to hear about people doing things like that. Why is it not enough to appreciate them naturally.

  7. Terry Denton

    Swimming with the sharks is the extreme version of swimming with the dolphins! ;o) Nice post!

    Congrats on making the “100 Reasons To Travel” list by Trip Logic – http://goo.gl/7yH6Q. As a fairly new blogger, I was pleased to make the list as well (# 16). If you have a moment, check out my admittedly quirky travel blog at http://www.travelbyterry.com. It’s a fun read, or meant to be at least. ;0)

  8. WYNNA Post author

    @terry: Thank you so much for giving me a heads up! I was surprised to see a lot of great posts combined in one blog. 🙂

    Love reading your posts! Fun and interesting read! 🙂

  9. Elmer Cruz

    The main issue is that these are animals that should be kept in the wild without disrupting their natural instincts.. By feeding them, we think we are doing a good thing but it has a long term repercussion on their way of life and ultimately the ecosystem. We are doing more harm than good. This is why I do not support this tourism in Oslob. These creatures should be enjoyed in their natural habitat without affecting their patterns, else they become dependent and develop habits that will be to the detriment of everyone…even humans. I dont wanna sound like a fundamentalist but I think we need to be sensitive not only culturally but also ecologically in our travels.

    Anyway, you took some great photos Wynna and if ever you want to experience them in their natural habitat go to Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte and see how majestic these creatures are going about their own business. The water there is so clear and crisp and you can see the whales against the sandy bottom. It really is such a thrill!!!

  10. Michael

    You raise some good points Elmer, when you said “we need to be sensitive not only culturally but also ecologically in our travels.” Love that!

    Sogod Bay sounds amazing!!

  11. WYNNA Post author

    HI Elmer! Yes, after that photo of a lady standing on a whale shark was spread, I was already not in favor of the whale shark watching gig in Oslob. I agree with you that spoonfeeding them would lead to a detrimental effect later on. Thanks for voicing out your opinion. 🙂

    I want to learn scuba diving but I’m not yet confident about myself. I might end up drowning or hyperventilating because I really am afraid of very deep waters and sharks. woah! but Sogod Bay sounds very enthralling! I might try that soon if I’m brave enough. haha 🙂

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