If you are looking for where to see and do snorkeling with whale sharks the Philippines, you will find 2 places: Donsol and Oslob. The two sites are different, both on the reason of the presence of whale sharks than how to manage it.
WHALE SHARKS DONSOL INFO
Why are there whale sharks in Donsol?
Donsol is a migratory passage for whale sharks. They spend the Donsol coast for a certain period of the year (from December to May).
The organization at Donsol
The Sorsogon region has organized itself to preserve the presence of their whale sharks. WWF is present and tries to collect daily information about them:
- Each snorkel boat has a transponder that he will hand over after each outing so to analyze the places where they were spotted and their number.
- After each dive trip, a member of the WWF comes for gather information on the observed number as well as the best videos to analyze them (size, sex ...)
- The snorkeling tour lasts 3 hours
- You are 6 maximum per boat
OSLOB WHALE SHARKS NEWS
So, I had a very negative opinion about Oslob and how they manage the presence of whale sharks. I have changed a little opinion doing research for this article and learning things that I did not know (especially through a article by Shawn Heinrichs, a well-known filmmaker in the marine environment).
Why are there whale sharks in Oslob?
- Whale sharks feed on plankton but also on tiny shrimp (krill) and it turns out that Oslob Bay is full of these little shrimps that go back to the surface at night.
- During the night, whale sharks were therefore in search of these shrimps and extended their search until the early morning.
- One day, a fisherman who released this type of small shrimp in the bay (because they represented the "waste" of his fishing) found that whale sharks followed his boat to eat them.
- Needle all fishermen have appropriated this phenomenon and started to propose to the tourists to come to observe the whale sharks in the early morning.
Why not go see whale sharks in Oslob?
By feeding them every day the fishermen have completely changed the habits of whale sharks : their presence is no longer natural !
- Some specimens are there all year long.
- They are coming early in the morning to be fed by the fishermen.
- They are along the boat that feeds them (see photo) and voila, they do not move.
- All snorkelers so are around these 2-3 sharks.
- The snorkeling starts at 6:30 and lasts 30 minutes.
Why is everyone going to Oslob?
Oslob being on the island of Cebu, a region much more touristy than Donsol, travel agencies are having a blast in this trade around whale sharks.
I did Oslob in 2012, when I was still just a “lambda” diver with around 30 dives and I regret. Although I am not entirely satisfied with my experience in Donsol, the conditions are still better than at Oslob.
I know a lot of you are going to read these lines and say, "Yeah, sure, he's right, but it's still much more complicated to go to Donsol than Oslob... ", yes I know, anyway, I will have given you my opinion!
MY REVIEW ON OSLOB AND DONSOL
In fact, it's simple, with hindsight, I will not recommend any snorkeling trips with whale sharks! Even at Donsol, framed by the WWF, I did not like the experience. Up to 15-20 boats in the bay, 6 people per boat, everyone at the same time on the same sharks, people looking to touch them ... The best is really to DIVE with them!! And for that Donsol is one of the few places in the world where you can do it (see article here).
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