Once I heard I was going to Cebu for work, the first things that popped in my mind were the whale sharks in Oslob.
Comments on Tripadvisor and a couple other articles gave me the initial doubts though. Further research with a group of locals confirms these findings. As a matter of fact, a local responsible tourism company has informed me that they have stopped arranging whale shark tourism in Oslob for these very same reasons.
In Oslob whale shark tourism has been made into a profit-making venture with total disrespect of nature and the whale sharks themselves. The whale sharks are being fed. They have now gone off the natural migration period and routes by staying in Oslob longer for the easy food. The uneaten food contaminates the sea. The large number of tourists allowed makes it a circus of boats that get too closed to the whale sharks and injuring them. There are photos showing people touching and riding the whale sharks.
It took me months of consideration to NOT patronize and thus financially support whale shark tourism in Oslob. Snorkeling with whale sharks has been a dream of mine for quite sometime now. I am dying to do it and experience for myself the feeling of being with these gentle giants. But, being responsible and respectful of mother nature is more important in the long run. It will not kill my dreams to do it in a different place next year where they engage better practices. It is up to us to choose responsible operators and places and stop patronizing those who are not. This is the only way the latter has the incentives to improve. I do not regret this decision. I can at least sleep at night knowing I made the decision that feels the most right for me and my principles.