ON board a motor banca with a group of divers in barangay Tan-awan, Oslob town, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia waited for hours but didn’t get to proceed with her dive to see the town’s whale sharks.

Some fisherfolk on a paddle boat fed a solitary whale shark with uyap” or baby shrimps and waved from afar.
But when one motor banca sped to their location, the whale shark swam underwater and didn’t surface, to the disappointment of Garcia and visitors.

Some tourists were snorkeling in the area hoping to see a tuki or butanding as whale sharks are locally called.
But during their three-hour stay, only one whale shark showed up.

The governor and her group, which included news reporters, were on two motorized bancas.

The three motor bancas owned by Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort could each accommodate 10 persons.

In the area, four other motor bancas boarded mostly by foreigners were standing by.

Three small paddle boats were being ridden by tourists. They all wanted to see the whale sharks.

Elson Aca, a Filipino researcher of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Phils.), earlier warned that boats with propellers should be docked in a designated area since their presence may harm both tourists and whale sharks.

In an e-mail to Cebu Daily News, Aca said he would be open to contacting the Capitol and show the results of his findings during his visit to Oslob town last December.

The motor banca boarded by news reporters was shooed away by a local fisherman who said the boat lone whale shark he was feeding was “scared off” by the noisy boat.

The motor banca operator told reporters, however, that the whale sharks were already accustomed to the presence of people.

Oslob Mayor Ronald Guaren and his group were also in the area on board motor bancas.

Hours after returning to Sumilon Island, Garcia lauded the coastal community for setting up makeshift tents as briefing areas to explain to tourists how to conduct themselves when viewing the whale sharks.

The marine animals shouldn’t be touched or otherwise disturbed.

Garcia said she will meet with Oslob town officials including divers to craft guidelines of an ordinance to ensure the presence of whale sharks in their area.

Guaren said the municipal council passed a resolution for temporary guidelines to be followed, including the percentage share of income generated from fees paid by tourists who hire boat men.

They agreed that 60 percent would go to the fisherfolk, 30 percent to the Oslob municipal government and 10 percent to barangay Tan-awan.

Source: Inquirer News