A Natural Sighting Of A Whale Shark In Its Natural Habitat

This was a great day – one of the greatest of my life. So much of this experience came together rather unexpectedly, but the end result is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

My hostel was tucked away, down a side street of the main road going to the beach. I thought it was a good location, within walking distance to the sand. Little did I know, but all that I needed for this trip would be within a stone’s throw!

Attached to the hostel block was a dive shop – Pata Negra – the black foot – exactly what I was looking for. Amazing staff, friendly dive team and offering their dive experiences at a great price.

I really only wanted to do an adventure dive and then spend a day on the island of Bohol – this would allow me time to cross over to the main island of Cebu and go swimming with the whale sharks.

I joined a group of four Swedes who were taking the Advanced Open Water course. There were two girls, one local Cebuana and a Swiss, who were taking their Dive Masters.

We planned for three dives – the first was at Balicasag Island. Here we went down to approximately 18 metres, following a coral shelf full of colour and life. There were green sea turtles just hanging out – such gentle creatures that glide through the water.

The second dive was where all the magic happened. We went down through a coral tunnel, only a few metres in length, but narrow enough for it be excitingly close. At the end of the tunnel we simply followed a coral shelf that shallowed up into a sandy bottom. We were down there for about 45 minutes before the water visibility got pretty bad – four of us went speedily ahead and four of us were caught up looking at sea creatures and got left behind.

Before we realised that we were separated from the group, the visibility improved slightly to 10-15 metres. Carolyn began making signals to us all – I turned around to the most amazing sight – a whale shark in its natural habitat.

The majestic beast was merely 10 metres away from us, but we could estimate its size to 12 metres in length. They are not a harmful species, but we wouldn’t have harassed the poor animal anyway. I swam a few metres closer and turned around quickly in time for a selfie!

It turns out that it isn’t common at all for whale sharks to be sighted in this area, near the Blackforest. In fact, it is very rare to spot a whale shark naturally in this area or even at Oslob where they are hand-fed to draw the creatures in close to shore.

So, for us, this was an amazing experience that would likely never ever be repeated. Lucky for the four of us that got left behind – unlucky for the four that sped ahead.

I had such an amazing time on those three dives, that I decided to stick around longer and take the Advanced Open Water course with the guys. It’s always great to find a positive bunch of people to share such an amazing experience with.

So, during the day we would head out on the boat and go diving. At night, we would be buried in the books, studying for the modules related to our exam. Needless to say, we passed with flying colours!

Having stuck around a bit longer, I spent some time with the guys in the dive shop – being next door to my hostel and all! I became somewhat of an unofficial team member – I was even given a uniform to wear!

Pictured below are Iniego and Lordy May.

I would totally do my Dive Master course with these guys, 100%.

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