Ticked out from my bucket list - swim with the Butanding!
Well, I didn't really swam with the whale sharks, it took me quite a while to dive in the water and have a photo with the closest whale-shark at the pier of Tan-Awan, Oslob, Cebu. For one reason, I'm not a good swimmer, and also I need to take photos from above the water. But that doesn't mean I had less of an adventure and fun compared to my friends who were with me.
The once-sleepy town was transformed into an eco-tourism spot and had been gaining popularity since they have welcomed the butandings in their coastal areas. "Tuki" as it is referred to by the locals, is such a gentle giant indeed. Our boat ride to Oslob was taken care of Bluewater Sumilon and even the adventure itself was arranged by the kind staff of the resort. With Bluewater Sumilon's own outrigger, we were brought to Tan-awan port with only 15 minutes ride. Coming towards the island, you can feel the exhilaration, with a swarm of tourists ready for the close encounter with our Philippine whale sharks.
Bluewater's boat is not allowed to go near the docking area, so we were transferred to a smaller paddle boat (bangka), nine of us, comfortably fitted in the boat and the other seven were accompanied to the briefing area on the beach. While just two of us, waited seated on the boat. According to one of the boatmen, they would have tourists numbering from 200 to 300 each day visit the area to experience whale-watching. The boatmen used to be fishermen and most of them didn't have decent jobs or no jobs at all. With the eco-tourism burgeoning in the island, and becoming into one of the region's top tourist draws they now boast of a sustainable living for their community and many of them have made themselves aware of how to prioritize care for these sea creatures.
Most shark tourism continues to focus on whale sharks, not only because they're the largest fish in the ocean. Whale sharks are relatively slow moving and are filter feeders that tend to swim close to the water's surface slurping up plankton, making them relatively easy and safe to dive with. What made them come to Tan-awan is the abundance of planktons in the area, however, the boatmen have learned to feed them and even the baby butandings feed after them.
This one came up close to our boat as if saying hi. Don't you find him so adorable?
You will actually know if they are around without even seeing them, with the stenchy fishy odor that dominates the area.
So, there's me hanging on (to dear life) to one of the bamboo outriggers. Notice at my back is one of the five baby butandings who were swimming around the coast.
|Photo (taken by the guide) owned by Liana Bautista|
And now for the best photo op with one of our friendly butanding... On the photo is Liana Bautista, the writer and copy editor behind likeloveblog.com and some read-worthy websites.
This is just part and parcel of my recent Bluewater Sumilon Island thrill.
To know more on how to book this adventure, you can contact the resort for the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort Amazing Adventure package.