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Fermin P-383

On Jul 31, 2012, Scar Face’s friend wrote:
Hi friends! Believe it or not, but this is Fermin's story, a whale shark from Oslob. Oslob is where whale sharks go to eat for free!
Fermin told his story and the scientist passed it on to me!

Little Fermin's story!

Hello Everybody,
My name is Fermin P-383, that’s what your scientists called me before a boat propeller ran over my face (eleven cuts, one in my left eye); now they me Scar Face. I am a young whale shark, only 6m (18 foot) tall. My parents were about 35 Foot (12 m) tall. That makes our species the biggest fish on earth. We were here long before the time humans were still living in trees. We do not have any weapons; we don’t even have teeth to defend ourselves because before, we never had enemies! Surviving mainly on a diet of plankton and the occasional krill, anchovies, and sardines as a snack, we need to travel very long distances to filter enough food from the sea because we are soooo big.

Fermin cutsFermin cuts
Oslob, Cebu Island: 11 propeller cuts on my face, one in the eye

Migrating species must migrate to mate and reproduce.
They call us a migrating species and say we need more protection as initial data show PH maybe breading area. I am still a young boy, but my parents told me that we must travel to find a partner, “mate and reproduce” ourselves. Since October last year humans started feeding me in Oslob, “eat all you can, for free!” In return, humans stare at me, some even touch or ride me but I don't like it. I heard they have to pay a lot of money to do this but to be honest, I don't exactly know what that is. Either way, it seems as though I’ll be staying here for awhile.

Feeding wild animals kills:
Many whale sharks stay in Oslob now for the food. And although it’s free, it’s also never fresh and is teeming with harmful bacteria our bodies are not adapted to. I started getting stomach aches more frequently and lost a lot of weight because the food is not adequate in portion as well as variety. Fully-grown whale sharks require 400 kg of food every 2 to 3 days and if a young boy, like me, doesn’t eat enough, my body will not mature in time and it will affect my growth and “reproduction”. We are already considered a species vulnerable to extinction. That means our numbers are getting fewer and fewer.

You know, we sharks we really have to move and eat a lot, if not we get ill. I just want you to know that now and then the free meal is even getting smaller and smaller because brown sharks and other species are coming to enjoy the free meals. They are not dangerous to us but they can be dangerous to you, especially when they feed! Please take care ok!?

In Oslob I learned boats and bubbles means food:
Well, for a change and to eat properly again, on July 17, 2012, I decided to move away for a while. After 2 days of traveling, I encountered a boat and thought to myself, why not a fast snack for free? In Oslob I learned, “Boats + Bubbles = Free Food!”. Upon approaching the boat and bubbles, I opened my mouth to ask for food. Too late I noticed some rotating knifes in between the bubbles (they call that propeller) were hiding and cut 11 deep “S” gashes in my face. One cut went right through the eye. I am hiding that eye now. You know, we sharks can turn our eyes outside-in to protect them. It's very painful and I still don't know if it will ever recover. I just hope the deep cuts in my face will not become infected and kill me.
I returned to Oslob the following day where “Rules and Regulation” were implemented to avoid such accidents. Some dive shops even published a behavior codex about how to properly stare at us. Some even have a green washing logo …oops sorry, I mean Green Fins logo on their website. One shop in particular is even offering a “Whale Shark Specialty”, whatever that is. I heard they come from miles away, Moalboal and Mactan, some even from Bohol and Negros or Manila, even from other countries to stare at us here in Oslob.

Fermin cutsFermin cutsFermin cuts
Oslob: Infected scars around the mouth from bumping boats while begging for food

It’s almost as if they were teaching me how to kill myself:
My face is in so much pain that I asked the humans for medicine. One of their scientists, the one who can who understands shark language told me they cannot help me and I should not accept medicine from humans because it might cause even more complications. I appreciate your rules and regulations but I now realize - for my kind, it means we can never leave Oslob again, swim freely, or eat what we want or can you tell me the differentiate between boats that bring food from those that cut your face? I will never see the beautiful females the bigger boys here are always talking about to start a family and have children. Did you know nearly all of us here in Oslob are males? Very boring here...

Bad imitators, and now more exposed to hunting and poaching:
Another whale shark here told me that he went off for some time and someone stabbed him with a spear in the back! ( Cebu Daily News Jan 10 2012) I was told some humans even want to eat us but I don't believe that! How can something as small as a human swallow a big fish like me?

A close friend of mine went to the neighboring town of Boljoon a while ago. The humans there were not nice! They roped him to a rock by the tail! Some of them were sitting and jumping on him, having fun by hurting him and they didn’t even give him any free food!

Even without “feeding” and being domesticated / focused on feeding, in waters too warm for us, we are already vulnerable to extinction:
We may not be smart like humans, we don't know how to use computers, drive cars or fly to the moon. We have no idea how to defend ourselves but we know that what you are doing is not nice!

Aside from feeding, did you know we must dive deep to rid ourselves of parasites, clean our filter plates, and “sleep”? In Oslob, we are near the surface most of the time for the free food, this means we are constantly exposed to warmer waters and surface currents. These conditions force us to consume more energy, causing stress, which makes us more vulnerable to diseases. The scientist who understands shark language told me, we have to perform our ecological role in the ecosystem. He even told frankly if that is not the case, then we are of no use to the planet and we will be effectively removed from the population. An endangered species, like us whale sharks, needs all the opportunities we can get to have many many babies. He said, it is important for wild animals to interact with their natural environments, as this is how ecological balance is maintained necessary for the health of this planet.

Fermin cutsFermin cutsFermin cuts
Underwater chaos caused by the feeding “attraction” in Oslob

Repercussions on the tourist industry and the Philippines as a destination for diving:
We should respect each other. Please don’t take advantage of the fact that you can make easy money by putting us on display. Maybe your own kind, especially those who love the water like us, will no longer have the heart to visit the Philippines.

As a result of this, many innocent humans will lose their job and income, suffering greatly for what few have failed to recognize as cruelty.

The humans that organize shows and promote us globally on the net, those that try to justify themselves with rules and regulations are only lengthening our sentence to this prison without steel bars; not quite a jail cell, but still a deadly trap.

On the bright side, those humans who want to help us may also start to feed the humans who are feeding us. I was told they do that by throwing with eggs... hehe.

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