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Whalesharks at Oslob Philippines 05--08/03/12

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Whalesharks at Oslob Philippines 05--08/03/12

Post Number:#1  Postby decimal86 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:31 pm

Whalesharks at Oslob Philippines 05/03/12 thru 08/03/12

After much sourcing and enquiring, only Savedra at MoalBoal decided to give me a quote for diving with Whalesharks at Oslob. I believe there is a Malaysian dive center that contacted me but by then I had to commit to one or the other...

There has been so much hype, posts and word-of-mouth that we had to go and see for ourselves. Before officialdom came down and put a damper on things. On this occasion, perhaps that is for the better?

We have snorkeled with these gentle giants in Donsol,Philippines before and at best it was like shaking hands with gloves on. Why? The water was green and these leviathan were swimming at a great numbers of knots and yes I could not fin fast enough (if you must know). You did not really get a grip on things....?

Ok so I signed up with Savedra not exactly cheap, but they were the only one that gave me a quote.

The journey there was uneventful except this times I noticed there was a farm for breeding fighting cocks? (oi get your minds out of the gutter lah deh! Cockerel lah) . And we had a really great meal at Mang Inasal again. Really man they know how to BBQ chicken. But AWAS AWAS not halal.

Checked in and was told it would be a 0530 hrs van ride to Oslob.

The others in the van are from Hong Kong.  All well travelled and dive addicts. They don't keep logs any more. Shared many a tale with them on that 1 hr and 45 mins ride to Oslob. Next dive---Mactan! But that is jumping the gun...

Oslob is like any linear settlement on any Malaysian highway. One small sundry shop, houses, burning sampah pile, coconut trees and toothless grins. nothing really exciting until the van rounds a corner and posters screaming Whalesharks (Butanding in Tagalog or Tuki in local dialect) and phone numbers of the ppl who will organise trips for you. apparently Tuki-Tuki is whaleshark in Japanese? can anybody confirm that? could have dire consequences if mispronounced.

if you do a search, there is a blog detailing how to travel to Oslob from Cebu International airport by Ceres Liner-a bus service which is air-cond and i can vouch for its regular schedule whilst we were having lunch. impressive!!

First stop was to pay our monies and register. They have a camera fee here. Then a short walk to our staging point. We suited up and set up our tanks. It's a shore entry.  Inflate BCD then back fin out before we descend an.......then all he'll broke loose because there they were behind us......!!! One was immediately on our right and the other was behind us. All bets were off as we dived and switched on our cameras. As we looked up they were like puppies wagging their tails and begging for the krill that the fishermen had prepared. It would later become apparent that the dive center had paid the fishermen to bring the Tuki to where they saw the SMB. The other snorkellers had no problem with that cuz it would not impede their view. BTW. There are rules and more rules regarding approaching these giants. And they will let you know if you are close to breaking them.

The visibility was about 10m  and the sun was out so it was not a problem getting all the shots you ever wanted. Then we found out it was better to come out early to beat the crowd. And the crowd came at about 11 am. Snorkelers,divers and boatman were everywhere and it was difficult getting a shot without somebody in it.

The modus operandi is to lure one of the Tukis by throwing krill in front of them or scent of krill to keep them from swimming away. And if they did swim away, other boats would paddle in front of them to lure them in a circular manner around the SMB ....ingenious eh? Of course the dive center has to pay for the krill.  There were about 6 Tukis although we saw only 2.  5 M length. Not as big as Donsol.

But the visibility made up for it. So we formed a circle underneath at varying depths from 1 to 4m and did not get in each others way. But mark my words, the corals there are going to be history soon as I saw freshly broken corals everywhere. At low tide it is almost guaranteed. Shame too as they have an active community down there. Snow speckled eel, mantis shrimp sea snake and flatworms. No sign of bleaching anywhere.

Lunch was not exciting, we found it too saltish. The fruits were delicious. Mango was in season and they were generous with it.

Walked around and took the hp numbers of a few homes that welcomed tourists and a singular dive center--Oslob divers! It seems there are other attractions in Oslob besides Tukis. We will see....There is Sumilon island just 10 mins away also with a dive center. But get your credit cards ready cuz it is MAHAL. PALING MAHAL to be more precise. Check out their website yourself. I almost fainted when I saw their room rate even before diving. But I guess you get what you pay for ?

The have their own boat that brings divers to dive with the Tukis and it is luxurious. Looks like Thunderbird 4 ( sorry this is the only way I can describe it).

So there is this circus from 6 am to 1pm where the fishermen feed the Tukis so you can plan your group accordingly. After that they stop feeding and the Tukis go..er....somewhere I guess. They hit the sides of their sampans to call them! Cute. I learned that the fishermen get their krill (not on route 66) but at a river mouth just south of the beach. In the early hours before 6. The price of this krill jumped from 300 P to 800 P in the space of 3 months! We call it cincalok I think? Come to think of it Melaka also more expensive and we are not feeding any Tukis.

So we went home after a day of mind blowing encounter with the biggest fish of them all. Traffic was heavy and the road conditions were terrible. I think the NS highway is the best maintained piece of asphalt compared to this. Pot holes everywhere and drop offs where the sea meets the cliffs. The driver kept tooting his horn at everything in front of him. You could not take a snooze. There were dogs everywhere sitting on the road. And bicycle powered tricycles ( that must surely be an oxymoron ) on the country roads. People paid scant regards to vehicles speeding down at them.

The next day we started  off later much  to our detriment. It was so crowded when we got there. and the rainstorm the night before made the sea some what milky. Even at 1 M it was bad for photography. We had to improvise.... Hey... How about a view from a sampan? So we gave up our second dive and opted for a ride in a sampan. Because they had a mortality of a whaleshark, hit by a propeller, all the boats are pedal powered. We were pedaled by 2 fishermen would could out maneuver the Tukis we took some really good shots of them from above.

They do not want the Tukis to gather together from what I gathered. They want as many visitors to get up close and personal with them as possible. If you asked politely you could board the boat feeding these giants and take a really close shot of them. No problem.

The local boys help out by bringing your tanks to the sea side as it is a 2 m drop from the beach and bringing your tanks back to the cabanas. Pls spare a thought for them and tip as a group? They come out to about 2 feet of water and take your BCD up the steps and change tanks for you. So you can re gain your composure and waltz up those steps?

A lot of ppl do not tip. The dive center only provide lunch or these boys. Come on! Have a heart.

In closing, it was a far better experience than Donsal. At least here they clean their beer bottles of rust....the vis is better. You get a chance to appreciate how tame they can be and how they totally trust us.

Whether or not this whole set up is right or wrong, I cannot say. Only time will tell. we could see bruises on the lip of a Tuki and there is a report of a dead Tuki from a blog.the frantic paddling to prevent them from escaping surely is not ideal and injury will be inevitable...

Not migrating will affect them adversely? I do not know. Feeding them will change their habits? In Sangalaki the Whalesharks have evolved to eating sardines. So why not Oslob?

The fishermen have come to accept that the tourist dollar can sustain a community perhaps through correspondence with Donsal? And they are getting the Tukis to accept human interaction by stroking them with their foot as they feed them. as grateful as we were in being able to come so close to these marvel of nature, i get this 'spidey sense' tingle that we should stop all this and let them migrate naturally. they are after all wild animals. yes i am not a marine biologists...but i can't help feeling that this is all wrong somehow?

yes we feel it was value for money! it was not cheap...perhaps staying at Oslob will be cheaper? there are signs that the sleepy village is waking up to the sound of tourists knocking on their doors. at least 2 parcels of land are being developed into rooms for rent. i wish them well. especially these giants that have come to trust their guardians so much. once their hunters now their keepers.

i have some contacts and some pictures of posters that have phone numbers on them. i will post later. you can pm me for the other info. my wife and i paid for our trip there.
Last edited by decimal86 on Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
decimal86
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Re: Whalesharks at Oslob Philippines 05--08/03/12

Post Number:#2  Postby run » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:38 am

decimal86 wrote:The fishermen have come to accept that the tourist dollar can sustain a community perhaps through correspondence with Donsal? And they are getting the Tukis to accept human interaction by stroking them with their foot as they feed them. as grateful as we were in being able to come so close to these marvel of nature, i get this 'spidey sense' tingle that we should stop all this and let them migrate naturally. they are after all wild animals. yes i am not a marine biologists...but i can't help feeling that this is all wrong somehow?


It is wrong. We will have less chance to have those giants passing to malaysian waters if they continue to bribe
them with krills. I thank god for giving me a rare chance to see them once. In our very own waters.
That moment still fresh in my mind. Not knowing what the heck is that fish?? Why so large one??? can eat people
or not?? and then all divers switched their finning speed from gear 1 to gear 5 chasing the fish and i just tag along in the chase.
run
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Re: Whalesharks at Oslob Philippines 05--08/03/12

Post Number:#3  Postby decimal86 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:54 pm

like i said, i am no biologist nor ethics expert...if they dont survive thru tourist dollars then they will kill them. so its up to the villagers to decide.

i won't judge-lah. its their playground and they set the rules. just like Donsal..no touching, no diving, no feeding. no nothing...

i know where you coming from dude
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
decimal86
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