My sunburn has subsided, and the bruises I collected on our Cebu holiday have now all but disappeared, but my memories of our time in the Philippines have not.
Now, before I get into writing about our time in Cebu, I want to write about one activity we decided NOT to do. Most people who travel to Cebu Island stay in the little town of Oslob. We opted to stay in a town nearby this popular tourist destination, but we skipped the activity most people do while in the area: swimming with whale sharks.
For those of you who know me, this probably seems like the kind of thing I would love! Swimming in the ocean…seeing incredible wildlife…learning about a fascinating animal… but after spending the last 4 years learning how to be a responsible tourist, I took the time to learn about the Oslob Whale Sharks, and I learned how human contact affects the fish.
First, I should say that unlike riding an elephant, swimming with whale sharks is not as obviously harmful to the animals. They are not captive or trained in any way, so on the surface, it doesn’t seem like swimming with them should be too much of a problem. After all, they are just being given some free food. What’s the harm?
Unfortunately, whale sharks in the area are becoming too comfortable around boats, and are frequently hurt when they approach fishermen, expecting food. Some fish are also dealing with malnutrition, because the krill they are fed by the fishermen is only 1 of the various types of fish they need in their diets. Unfortunately, if their bellies are full of this free krill, they don’t search for food, and don’t get all the nutrients they need.
But there’s actually a bigger problem with feeding the Whale Sharks of Cebu Island. The free food they receive is actually changing their migration patterns and many scientists believe that this will ultimately result in fewer whale shark babies being born.
Ultimately, we decided that seeing the whale sharks was not as important as protecting them, so we chose not to go on that adventure. We did, however, see Tumalog Falls, a church made of coral stone and of course, and the highest point on all of Cebu Island!
Over the next few weeks, I have several posts planned about our week in paradise. They will all be short, and full pictures, so stay tuned!