Why does Eskapo not support whale shark watching in Oslob?

There are several reasons. The whole issue of fish-feeding is complex with no clear answer. In the end it has to come down to an individual decision however here are some of the reasons we don’t feel that this activity is sustainable or healthy:

  • whale sharks are migratory; encouraging them to stay in one place for extended periods has an unknown effect on their lifecycle and reproductive patterns
  • whale sharks in the wild are filter feeders and ingest a variety of nutrition. The diet at Oslob is of one type and of dubious quality
  • feeding creates unhealthy and unsafe patterns of behaviour. Look at the sores on many of the sharks mouth parts created by “begging” for food from the boats and rubbing their mouths on rough wooden hulls
  • being fed from boats associates boats with food. In Oslob there are no propellors to injure the whale sharks however this is not the case in other areas. Look at the scars on the backs of some of the sharks . . . .
  • although there are guidelines for approaching and interacting with the sharks, due to the nature of the experience these are not easy to enforce
  • up to 1500 vistors a day has an impact on the area in terms of solid waste management as well as the impact on the sharks
  • there are places in the region where “wild” whale shark sightings are common. The Tanon Strait is an important migratory route and there are regularily seen by divers in Moalboal-area. Primary destinations for sustainable whale shark watching are Donsol in Sorsogon, Luzon and Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte. Sogod Bay particularly is easy to get to from Cebu

Positive points:

  • it is very easy to do and can involve almost no effort or input. If you time it right you can land at Cebu airport very very early, get in a pre-booked car, be deposited in Oslob, jump the queue by using a local resort, have your 15 minute experience, get in your car back to the airport and be heading home in the afternoon
  • it’s trivial to take some great photos and be the envy of your friends
  • the whale sharks are not forced to be there – the reason they stay is free meals
  • local businesses make a lot of money from the activity
  • local fisherman are not hunting the sharks any more – hunting has been banned for years but used to happen from time-to-time

In the end it’s your decision but please be aware whale shark watching in Oslob is not the environmental wonder that it superficially appears to be and has significant downsides.