Plea to Miss Universe Not to Swim with Whale Sharks in Oslob

While everyone is teeming with excitement as the Philippines plays host to the 65th Miss Universe Pageant, it was a disappointment to see that the beauties’ itinerary would include swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu.

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From: Inquirer.net

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the iconic “butanding” is now officially considered as an endangered species (source).  And the feeding of wildlife and human interactions with these sharks in Oslob are not exactly helping (source).

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Marine researchers have noticed bumps and scars on the sharks which were caused by boat propellers. While motorized boats are not allowed in the feeding area, it is not surprising that these gentle creatures have associated other non-tourist boats with feeding (source).

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Marine researchers also fear the change in migratory patterns of the whale sharks, noticing a few to have stuck around longer than usual (source). The dependence on humans for their feeding patterns is already causing an ecological imbalance as it disrupts the sharks’ natural foraging behavior (source).

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Another issue is the amount of people joining the tours, which means more tourists violating the 2-meter minimum distance. While physical contact with the whale sharks is prohibited, this is rarely enforced as tourists are seen “riding” sharks and getting into such close proximity with the animal to capture the moment in a selfie (source).

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As purveyors of the preservation of the environment, this plea goes out to the organizers of the pageant to pressure the local authorities and tour agencies to regulate the industry more closely. Or even better, experience whale sharks swimming in their natural habitat like Donsol. Besides, Cebu is so vast and dynamic geographically that there are so much other ways to enjoy nature in the Queen City of the South.

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What are your thoughts on the issue?

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