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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sea Knights Note Lack Of Guidance For Tours In Handling Whale Sharks In Oslob, Cebu

Tourism-wise, the development in Tan-awan would be good for Oslob and turn the town into an alternative destination to Donsol, Sorsogon where tourists can swim with the gigantic but docile sea creatures.

However, what might be good to the local tourism and livelihood of the fishermen may be harmful to the whale sharks.

There were reports that even the boatmen do not know how to handle the whale sharks. Some even rode on them underwater and held their dorsal find and gills.

Upon hearing this, the Sea Knights - a group of divers who consider themselves stewards of the sea - went to Oslob to check.

The group was able to measure the biggest whale shark in the area, at eight meters. The smallest one they found was five meters in length.

The Sea Knights also wanted to observe how the locals handle the creatures and how much information dissemination on proper handling is needed.

Fr. Charlie Orobia, OAR, Sea Knights vice president and also vice president for students welfare at the University of San Jose - Recoletos, noted that tourist who go to Oslob are allowed to touch the Whale Sharks even if the guides tell them not to.

"They should never be touched because Whale Sharks are very rare species and they are susceptible to diseases. The boats should maintain a certain distance. There is a need to educate the boatmen and to let them understand their responsibilities. Tourist also be briefed on the dos and don'ts before taking a plunge," said Fr. Orobia.

He said that while the presence of the whale sharks will usher in mass tourism and help boost the economy in the town, residents should take care of the whale sharks and the marine ecosystem in the sea.

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