Oslob, near Cebu Island, Philippines


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Oslob is a small town on the South Eastern side of Cebu Island in the central Philippines.

Oslob is becoming known as a good place to find Whalesharks.  I believe that the season is November to February.

The local fishermen have taken the opportunity to make a living out of the visiting Whalesharks. The fishermen feed them (with, plankton-like feedstocks) from 20kg sacks, which they take out in their bangka (kayaks) and tip over the side while the Whalesharks follow along with their mouths’ wide open..

Other fishermen charge money to bangka tourists 100m out into the bay, so the tourists can jump in the water when a Whaleshark appears.

It ain’t exactly a natural scene, but it is a reliable way to actually find a Whaleshark.   I guess I’d sooner the fishermen make an income out of feeding the sharks, rather than killing them!

The fishermen seem to be quite responsible about managing their charges. They were slapping-down people who tried to touch the Whalesharks.  I had a new camera and I didn’t realise it kept switching its own flash on and I got a telling-off for using flash photography.  Quite right, too.


If you get away from the melee in the feeding area, you can often find a Whaleshark taking a break and swimming around freely.

On the day I was there, three Whalesharks showed-up. They were 3-5 metres long.  Just pups, really.



Here’s the scene in pictures:

The bay and the people: .

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Whalesharks munching chow from the side of a boat:

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Here is some video of the feeding:: 1 (up close), 2 (further away).




Whalesharks swimming free:

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It is about a 100m swim from the beach to the centre of the bay where the feeding was going on. I understand that there is some homestay accommodation at the beach.

I came on a daytrip from Dumaguete on Negros island.  It cost 1400PHP for the trip which entailed an hour with the Whalesharks then an hour’s snorkel at a pretty reef 2km away. The trip was run by Howard’s backpackers who seem to be well in-control of the backpacker-tourist market in Dumaguete.

Some folk paid over twice the money to do to the same trip, but diving.  But the Whalesharks were being fed at the surface, and spent most of their time at the surface, so the divers really only saw was the underside of the sharks and lots of tourists asses!

This was at the end of January.  The trip operators weren’t sure whether the Whalesharks would show up, as the water is warming-up at that time of year and the Whalesharks start heading out to deeper water.



Sumilon Island

In the afternoon, our boat motored over to a pretty reef, 2km away. The reef was close to a small island called Sumilon Island.






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It was a lovely spot. A Great Barracuda turned up to check me out.  He was the only big fish that I saw the whole time I was in the Philippines!



Edit: The island was due-East from the Whalesharks. Sitting here now, looking the location of Sumilon Island on satellite maps, suggests that the Whalesharks were actually not at the town of Oslob at all, but at another location, about 15km further down the coast.  Either there are (at least) two locations nearby where Whaleshark feeding goes on; or when people talk about ‘the Whalesharks at Oslob’, the ‘Oslob’ refers to this other location 15km South of the town, itself. I can’t shed any light on which it is, I’m afraid. “edit 2 – I found this text on a travel forum “Also be aware the actual whale beach is 10K outside Oslob in Baranguay Tan-awan”.  Also, the poster was saying that you have to pay to get into the water, or even to watch from the beach.


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Written: Feb 2012 . . . . . . . . .    Last updated: Feb 2012


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