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Say NO to OSLOB’s whale shark feeding!

Diving for Dummies latest news

Fermin cuts”Fermin-P383”, Oslob’s flagship whale shark left Oslob for 3 days in July 2012. Fermin came back with 11 propeller cuts in his face, one in the eye. Fermin turned blind on the left eye. How many non-documented friends did Fermin loose already since the beginning of Oslob’s atrocity Oct 2011?

Oslob: By our Marine Biologists at Dolphin-House / Dive college:

"Where whale sharks are fed to their death"
"When sharks die, the ocean dies"
"Before we were eating them, now we are feeding them"

It is bad enough that there need to be debates whether it is right or wrong to feed wild animals: Whether in Oslob or Tiger Beach, these are attractions for gawks. The whale sharks found on the east coast of Cebu Island are being fed and put on a show. Local fishermen are made to do the dirty work and many dive centers and tour operators bring in clueless divers who are not provided with the scientific biologic background or the ghastly consequences. In fact the law is clear on this issue: Whoever feeds protected sharks – including whale sharks – violates international and Philippine protection laws. Even the “Behaviour Codex” that was introduced to the feeding atrocity in Oslob does not change anything.

Luckily, the “Cebu Daily News“ denounce the gawkers’ spectacle repeatedly and report: According to a study by the NGO “Physalus” with daily observations, the whale sharks are still being actively touched with an average of 29 times per hour since the introduction of behaviour rules within the interaction zone. Oslob – and apparently some other areas as well – now have stationary whale sharks, called “regulars” all juvenile males, which are so focused on the feeding that they no longer migrate; thus being lost for reproduction and preservation of the species.

It is even worse for the adult sharks which only visit Oslob for a few days. Until this day about 150 different individuals have been identified in Oslob by photo ID. Within 3-4 days the whale sharks learn “Bubbles and Boats = Food”. Soon the sharks continue their migration guided by their instinct.

Taking their newly learned behaviour with them they approach boats to beg for food and in the process they swim headfirst into rotating propellers or literally offer themselves to be slaughtered by poachers. Cebu, especially the island of Mactan does not only attract divers but has also gained a reputation for shark finning and processing shark fins until this day.

Meanwhile the visitor count in Oslob is slowing down, sadly the whale shark sightings in our region are as well. Along the coast in Moalboal, about 180 Km away from Oslob, the whale sightings have diminished by 80-90%, these consequences are withheld. Our dive center’s yearly count of about 40 whale sharks a year, “before Oslob”, has been reduced to 3 in the year 2014. All three whale sharks that we encountered came to bump our boats and beg for food. For the first half of 2015, the count on Whale shark sightings is ZERO.

If you want to know more about the Oslob shark "interaction", here is the full story, a report of Physalus (NGO studying intensively the effect of the whale shark watching industry in Oslob), a few first pages on local newspaper and some articles published in German and French diving magazines.

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The whale shark's welfare

Local and international protection laws

Anything that could harm them needs to be banned. Whale sharks are vulnerable species as assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is listed in both Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). The Philippines is a signatory to these conventions, which means that our country has to take measures to conserve these animals, protect their migration, and prohibit their trade. The Philippine Fisheries Code states that the Department of Agriculture shall take conservation and rehabilitation measures for rare, threatened and endangered species for which by CITES definition, includes whale sharks (Republic Act 8550,Section 11). Moreover, the Wildlife Act states that it shall be unlawful for any person to willfully and knowingly exploit wildlife resources and their habitats (Republic Act 9147, Section 27). Feeding of whale sharks for economic purposes is clearly exploitation of nature and not promotion of ecological balance.

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More Info

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Resort, SPA, Diving
Saavedra, Moalboal, Cebu Island
Telephone: +63 (0)32 358 54 19
Cel: +63 (0)916 321 65 33

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