Nature lovers and curious travelers need not add pressure to Donsol.
A recent phenomenon off the coast of Barangay (village) Tan-awan, in Oslob town, some 117 kilometers from Cebu City has attracted flocks of local and foreign tourists in the past months to this sleepy coastal town and has caught the attention of local government and conservationists. This develops as whalesharks, locally known as Tuki have been cited in significant numbers in the area since August last year. Unlike the more popular Butanding of Donsol, Sorsogon, the whalesharks in Oslob were reportedly ‘more friendly’ and in fact, interacts with local fishermen. Reports indicated that fishermen, and recently, tourists have been hand-feeding the giant fish with baby shrimps or uyap. Whalesharks have previously been sighted prominently in Donsol and other areas like Bohol and Mindoro. Watch the video below courtesy of AtmosphereResorts.com and osdy1964.
Incidentally, I was able to pass by Oslob en route to Cebu and back in Dumaguete last December 31 and was reminded of this now growing attraction. But time wouldn’t permit me to drop by since I’m beating the New Year Eve’s rush. In fact, I tried my luck guarding the view while on the seacraft (locally known sa lantsa) plying the Sibulan (Negros Oriental) – Santander (Cebu) route but to no avail.
However, conservationists and government agencies want to impose strict regulation on the new eco-tourism attraction to ensure that the whalesharks and its habitat are properly protected in accordance with standing laws and nature conservation standards. The WWF-Philippines, which has been leading the Donsol conservation immediately came in to facilitate initial efforts, while a variety of environmental groups have extended interests and support. The local government of Oslob and the Cebu provincial government have tasked a working group to study and recommend necessary arrangements to regulate the whaleshark experience. Officials reported that numbers of tourists have now reach thousands since it started. For more info on whalesharks and its conservation, visit WWF-Philippines and Butanding Network.
Should this phenomenon persist and given a good tourism regulation and serious conservation efforts, not only Cebu but nearby towns in Negros Oriental could also benefit from this tourism wonder, due to there proximity to Oslob, not to mention that towns of Sibulan, Amlan and San Jose are bounded by Tañon Strait. But then again, in this case where economic gains rely on a natural and finite resource like this wild fish, the integrity and conservation of the friendly giants has to be of prime concern among residents and local leaders alike over the financial returns.
For more info on tour operations, visit: Oslob Whalesharks
Philippine Daily Inquirer