September 24, 2019

FINNING TO FLOURISHING: Filipino Fishermen are protecting endangered Whale Sharks

Words by Samantha Smith

Strong profits mean strong conservation as some of the world’s poorest fishermen stop killing and turn to tourism.

Oslob is the most reliable place in the world to swim with the majestic Whale Shark (which, believe it or not, is a fish, not a shark!).

Former fishermen have gone from killing Whale Sharks to embracing them, thanks to the tourists that flock to swim with them each year.

They’ve gone from earning just a US$1.40 a day on average, to US$62 a day and can now afford to send their children to school, rebuilt their homes to withstand typhoons and provide their families with more sustainable food.

Creating new forms of income is an essential part of reducing destructive fishing in less developed countries.

Now the fishermen are working in the tourism industry, they only fish in their spare time, which solves the overfishing issue and allows endangered species and coral reefs to repopulate throughout the Philippines.

Oslob is a win-win for fishermen, travellers, whale sharks and coral reefs.

What will you experience?

A wildlife encounter that allows you to understand the behaviour of Whale Sharks and become even more passionate about doing your bit to protect them.

The local fishermen take you out on their boats and feed the whale sharks small amounts of krill to draw them in, so you can snorkel or dive with them. In calm waters, they come within 200m of the shore.

The feeling you get while in the water with such a stunning creature has been described as ‘exciting’, ‘humbling’ and ‘ unique experience like no other’.

As part of the adventure, you’ll get to relax on the boat, take in the stunning scenery and feel the salty air on your skin.

Find out more: https://www.oslobwhalesharks.com/

Feeding whale sharks is controversial and some environmentalists have lobbied to shut Oslob down. However, there is little robust evidence to prove that feeding small amounts of krill to the whale sharks harms or significantly changes their behaviour.

If you would like to swim with whale sharks, but are not sure how you feel about them being fed, there are also eco-tour companies in Western Australia that provide the experience, using spotter planes above the reef rather than bringing them closer with food.

Find out more at https://www.kingsningalooreeftours.com.au/

What will the positive impact be?

The way the fisherman and local community have changed their behaviour towards the Whale Shark is both astonishing and extremely promising. By turning to tourism, these people are protecting the oceans and creating a better life for themselves. Giving our eco-systems time to flourish is key in the future of our planet.

Snorkelling with Whale Sharks promotes curiosity, understanding and sparks a passion inside you. It allows you a catch a glimpse into life under the waves and an insight into the lives of the people who are making a living from these tours.

Experiencing memorable moments like this empowers you to invoke positive change in your life; becoming more conscious and aware.


How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.