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Friday, August 14, 2015

Dumaguete (and Oslob): Day 6: Whale Sharks

Big boy
Paul from the dive shop managed to recruit 4 other people to join us on the whale shark snorkeling excursion, so we went on Friday.  I didn't really know anything about where we were going, except that it involved a jeepney ride, then a ferry ride, then another short jeepney ride, then a boat ride.  Turns out, we were headed to Oslob, which is a little nothing town that has recently made a name for itself as a whale shark snorkeling destination.  More on that in a bit.  It took maybe 45 minutes to get to the Sibulan seaport terminal, where we got on the ferry.  We got there a bit early and took one quick walk around the block to see the nearby shops.  Turns out there were some street food options there, but we didn't have any cash, so Rob missed out.  When we got back, they were loading the cars/trucks on the ferry, which was pretty entertaining to watch.

Sibulan terminal
The ferry ride was about 45 minutes, and when we got to the other side, we drove to Oslob, which took about 20 minutes.  We stopped at a little resort where we would have lunch (after the snorkeling) and we changed into our wetsuits and left the jeepney there and took another open-air jeepney type of vehicle the 3 to 5 minute ride to where we'd actually be snorkeling.  We were loaded onto boats for the 2 minute paddle out to where the whale sharks were.  There is a long line of these little paddle boats full of tourists, but most of the people are just watching the whale sharks and not actually snorkeling.  There were a fair number of people snorkeling, but it wasn't too crowded.  In the middle of all of this were a few more of these little outrigger paddle boats with feeders occasionally throwing fish (or shrimp?) in for the sharks.  It's not exactly what I had in mind for snorkeling with whale sharks.  In fact, before we got there, I did not know that there would be feeding going on.  I realize that this is a pretty controversial practice, but I'm going to skip any commentary on the controversy.

The beach at Oslob
The whale sharks were really cool, but it was a bit of a frenzy with all of the snorkelers, and eventually a boat with a few divers showed up, whose bubbles made things even more chaotic, or at least made it harder to take pictures and video :)  Overall, it was a neat experience, but I'd much rather swim with whale sharks in a more natural environment, and will probably try to do that again some day.

After we finished up our snorkel (which lasted maybe an hour), we headed back to the little resort where we had stopped on the way, and after changing and showering, we had lunch.  We hung out around there a bit longer and then headed back to the ferry and eventually back to Atlantis.  We got back there a little after lunchtime.  I skipped the afternoon dives to go to the spa for a massage instead (which was very good).  I met back up with Rob for the night dive, which we did as a shore dive.  It was a real shore dive this time, none of this riding out on the boat.  Actually maybe it wasn't quite a real shore dive, as we walked into the water without gear on, and walked up to the boat, where I gear was, retrieved our gear from the boat, and got geared up next to the boat.

Whip coral shrimp
We dropped in like 5 feet of water and swam out.  It was just the two of us (and a guide) on this dive.  The conditions were a bit more sedate than they were the previous night, without the raging current.  We saw a bunch of frogfish tonight and more of the usual little critters we'd seen at this site on previous night dives.

Cuthona yamasui
But the best find of the night was at the very end, in about 3 feet when we were about to surface right on the beach.  Paul (the DM) found a nudibranch on a hydroid, which was a super cool nudibranch that we'd never seen before.  It had an olive green body with turquoise and white cerata; we later ID'd it as Cuthona yamasui.  We spent several minutes admiring it, and Rob took a bunch of pictures.  When we were finished with that, we finally surfaced.  Some of the dive staff was waiting on the beach to take my gear for me, but I told them I thought I could make it back to the dive shop under my own power :)

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