Monday, 14 July 2014

Whale Sharking Around

This has been one of the top entries on my bucket list for a long while. Beautiful, beautiful creatures, also nicknamed the gentle giants, and locally known as butanding. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. While these ones weren't as large as I had expected (they were about 4m long), sharing waters with them is quite something altogether:

The water is warm and tastes of plankton. Large bubbles float up from below. On the sea bed, marine biologists drift around - they are there to observe how the sharks interact with humans. There are about 4 sharks in the area, peacefully gliding past while overexcited tourists splash around above them. We were told not to swim nearer than 4m to them, but the sharks themselves have no sense of that boundary. One bumps into my back and I turn around to watch it slide past me - the gentle movement of its gills, the remora sticking to its belly, the unique pattern of spots and stripes. Another one swims right under me. I stop swimming so my fins don't kick it. It is inches beneath me, almost as if I am riding it, and it is absolutely surreal.

While the whale sharks themselves were beautiful,  the place was extremely crowded and touristy - it felt like there were far too many people in the waters at any one time. Also, I didn't quite like the way the local guides kept yanking us back while we were swimming around, Nevertheless, it was a really awesome (in the actual sense of being in awe of these majestic, beautiful creatures) experience. 

Getting there:
We took a 1.5h van ride from Moalboal to Aaron's Beach Resort in Oslob for an incredible swim with these beauties. Note that sun block is not allowed, so if you're prone to getting sunburnt, wearing a rash guard is advisable. It costs 1000 pesos for a 30min swim.

Photos taken with Canon G16 in underwater housing.

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