The Gentle Giants — the Whale Sharks
I’m selachophobic, I’m afraid of sharks. I have never seen a shark before. Oh, wait, I had seen sharks but that would be around 2 ft and less, but even those little big-eyed monsters scare the hell out of me!
I admit, my phobia was influenced so much by the movies depicting goliath sharks as human-eaters. When I see even a picture or a drawing of a shark, I instantly flinch and move my body away from it. When I swim especially if I’m alone, I panic just by thinking about sharks and I instantly forget all my strokes and end up choking up a lot of water.
In my 23 years of existence, I never thought I would even see a gargantuan shark up-close and personal. That’s not even part of my wildest dreams!
But when I heard about a certain kind of shark that is totally harmless, I immediately thought “what the heck, is this for real?!”
I researched and found out about the gentle giants, the whale sharks. They grow up to 40 feet or the size of a big bus. Whale sharks are monstrously big but here’s the catch, they only eat planktons and some small fish that goes with it. Amazing, right?
When I knew that these gentle giants are just 130 km away from where I am staying, I definitely rounded up my friends to see them with my own two unbelieving eyes.
We stayed overnight at Oslob and early the next day we lined up to see the whale shark. It is 300 pesos per head or just 8 US dollars for the banca ride that will take you to the spot where the gentle giants bask in the sun.
As early as 5 in the morning, tourists swarm the place. As soon as you pay the fee you will be taken to a small tent wherein you will be briefed about the rules and regulations of whale shark watching.
After the briefing, I can’t hide my excitement already. I still have to endure the longest 30-minute wait of my life. And when the boatman signaled us to aboard the ship, my spirits went sky high. At last!
Who would have thought that I would, one day, swim with the very specie that I’m afraid of. I even chased its tail (I didn’t hold it, I just chased it). I took a lot of blind shots with my disposable underwater camera but due to its monstrosity, i cannot fit its whole body in the frame.
The feeling was so surreal. Amazingly, I didn’t feel any trace of fear. I just enjoyed the water, the mild heat of the sun, and the big friendly whale shark.
Whale shark watching is available in Oslob, a small town in the southern tip of Cebu Island, Philippines. You can book a flight from Manila to Cebu and from Cebu City you’ll have to take a bus or a hired car to take you to Oslob.