Whale Sharks of Cebu


Whale Shark, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

We took a bus from Malapascua to Oslob, Cebu. We were here for one reason, Whale Sharks. The largest shark in the world, measuring up to 40 feet and more. We got off the bus in a small coastal town, and we had a slew of touts come up to us right away, all about accommodation. We chose a nice young man whose house was literally 30 feet away. They had a separate apartment, way bigger than we needed, but cozy, clean, and nice. The a family was wonderful, and we spent some time hanging out, playing with their kids, and getting to know them. They let us borrow their bicycles so that we could ride around town. This was a lot of fun, even though town was so small. There were still a lot of interesting things to see.


Oslob Town, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

After a great nights sleep we rented their scooter in the morning to check out the whale sharks. There is nothing better than riding a scooter along coastal roads. This section was very hilly, with the road hugging cliff overlooking the sea. Every turn is something new and exciting, and we were loving it. Leaving town you go up a fairly steep road along the cliffs. This gives you an amazing view of the town and church on the water.

Oslob Town, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

Oslob Town, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

The whale sharks were not to far away, and we arrived early so that we could be the first boat out. The Whale Sharks congregate here mainly because fisherman began feeding them. Word got out and now more and more come. I know this is not really the best for conservation; it destroys their natural habits, and builds dependency on man. The thing is though; before they fed the sharks the fishermen here would be eating them. Which is way worse? Now at least they make money off it, and save the sharks too. The sharks can come and go as they please, and though they have a few regulars, i.e. Big Fat Lazy Whale Sharks. Over all they get a large variety of new sharks too. I guess they have a great communication system via the sea waves. My opinion on this is as long as they don’t corral the sharks in, then it’s not a bad of a thing to continue doing.

This video doesn’t exist

You take a little Banco out with an outrigger, and hop in. There is scuba diving in this section, but from what I could see you just sit on the bottom, about 20 yards down, and that’s it. When you snorkel you are among the whale sharks. Snorkeling is all you need to do. The price is about ten dollars, totally worth every penny. We swam for a good half hour with them, amongst them, and practically between them. It can be quite dangerous at times, just because the sheer size of them. They are unaware of you, like a fly to an elephant. Yvonne was taking a picture of me when one swam between us, knocking into her with his fin. She spun around like a top, and had a bruise the size of a soft ball on her side. The shark did not even know it hit her.

Whale Sharks are really like giant vacuum cleaners, just opening their huge cavernous mouths and sucking in all the water, bits of food, and what ever. Most people think they are whales, but Whale Sharks are fish. They eat the same way as whales, and have a massive size, but they still breath water, unlike whales. The Whale Sharks have been around for approximately 60 million years old. They are found all over the world in tropical climates. They are the largest non-mammalian vertebrae, so pretty much the largest fish out there.

The thing most people don’t realize is how gorgeous they are. They have nice soft white bellies, dark blueish gray tops, and some of the most gorgeous dot patterns I have ever seen. Its like nature created the most gorgeous connect the dots game. They have tiny little eye, and a large huge mouth, but its not filled with sharp jagged teeth like most sharks. Heck, I could not even see any teeth even though their mouths were open so wide any dentist would have a field day. After all, they just suck their food in. Its really breath taking, which is a bad thing when you are holding your breath trying to take pictures.

After an amazing time with the whale sharks, we explored the colonial town, Oslob, with its beautiful old church. The water in town is crystal clear, and I snorkeled around for an hour right in town. Like always, there were amazing things to see. I saw squid pulsating around, always keeping just a big out of reach. Trigger fish were everywhere, and these little buggers were not nice at all. They would shoot out from under a rock, torpedo you with a bite, then retreat back to safety. I believe they were clown trigger. After a few near misses I got sick of the sneak attacks and climbed out of the water to sunbath.

We were back on a bus by 2 and off to the airport to Manila. Once we reached Manila we went to the hotel near the airport, a pretty crappy one, but we had left stuff in storage there while we had traveled for a few weeks, so it was great to get all that back. Our room was small, dirty, and unpleasant. But still could not beat the convenience of being so close to airport. We caught a cab in the morning, and headed to Tokyo.

Oslob Town, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

Oslob Town, Cebu, Philippines. Copyright Michael Bencik 2014

6 responses to “Whale Sharks of Cebu

  1. That’s a great video (and I love David Grey)! Did your heart pound just a little when you noticed you were swimming with sharks? How about Yvonne when she got bumped? You got a neat shot of the underside of the shark fin, with all the little fish hanging off. What are those called?

    • Nah, the whale sharks are mainly harmless, plus I have swam amongst sharks many times before. I was in the great barrier reef where the sharks were fed huge chunks of cod 10 feet from us, they were in a feeding frenzy. I am only afraid of sharks when I am swimming on surface, and don’t know they are under me. Thats when they get you.
      The little fish are remoras, I am not sure exact kind. They clean the fish. Sometimes they will stick on to you also, which is funny.

    • It was pretty easy but took I think like 8 hours. We took a public bus that went back through Cebu city and then on to Oslob. It dropped us off in the center of town, and we stayed at a families house right where bus dropped us off.

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