This was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The size and gracefulness of these creatures was amazing to behold at such close proximity.
Granted, this wasn’t a “natural” encounter in the sense that we ran into some whale sharks out in open water, but it was still an incredible experience and one I would recommend.
In Oslob, Philippines, there is a spot just off-shore where whale sharks are fed regularly. And, as you might imagine, they are always there. To be fair, this does seem a bit like cheating, but given our closeness to Oslob, our actual chances of seeing whale sharks in the wild, and our desire to have an encounter with them, we decided to go for it.
Based on our research, we determined that we needed to get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds, so that’s what we did. And it worked (at least for most of our time).
We paid our fee, got briefed on the rules (no touching, getting too close, etc), and jumped in a small flat boat. Our Filipino guide paddled us out a few hundred feet to where the sharks were being fed and told us to jump in.
Despite feeling completely safe, my heart rate still went up when I dipped my face into the water to see multiple 15-20 foot whale sharks. Within a minute or two, they were in every direction, some swimming underneath us and others posed vertically to suck in water and filter out the krill and shrimp being thrown out to them.
Distracted with getting a picture of Laura swimming alongside one of the sharks, I was nearly ran over by another as he was tracking down his snack. I paddled back a few feet and kept the camera going to get this shot…
My next step would’ve been to ride one, but given the threatened fine and jail time, I opted for capturing the moment as best I could with the GoPro.
Our 30 minutes with the sharks went by like 5 and our time was up. We were brought back to shore, a bit amazed at what had just happened and half-ways wanting to do it again!
Here is a short video clip of our encounter.