From Panglao Island, Bohol we get on the ‘Jesse Belle’. The organization that I have chosen is small-scaled, the people are friendly and the two-hour boat ride towards the point where the whale sharks are is just fine. The typhoon is coming, and today we cross the sea towards Oslob, Cebu. Great idea. The boat is colorful and I settle myself on the point, ready for some glimmers of sun. The next two hours the sun is hiding, but as soon as the coast of Oslob comes in sight, the sun breaks through and she embraces me like a warm blanket. The water turns turquoise when this blanket rolls out itself. A warm shiver. “So at least I have a sunny ending when those sharks eat me” I stutter, while I see a huge tail fin in the water. We rinse the just-applied sunscreen of and we listen carefully to the tips. No screaming. Four feet distance. No unexpected movements.
“Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god. What am I doing here. Fish. Huge fish.” I dip my toes in the water. His huge mouth opens. Like a vacuum cleaner he eats the shrimps in the water and he waves his huge tail cheerfully. “Brave whale shark. I like you. You are very sweet. So don’t hit me with your tail”. Without thinking, I glide into the salt water. Scuba mask. I take a small dive under water, and there I realize how big these ‘gentle giants’ are. About 8 metres, at least. I take a deep breath, but all my fears dissapear when I swim towards these huge animals. Those eyes. Small beady eyes, which only seem to smile. They are sweet. Huge, but sweet. And they wear polkadots, just like I am today. I take another dive. The whale shark comes to me. Now I see there are about five whale sharks around me. I hear my boyfriend grumbling. The underwater camera is broken. That is such a pity, because now we can not capture the beautiful underwater world during the rest of our trip . Luckily I have three pictures of the first encounter with the whale sharks.
I laugh hysterically at him. “Put that stupid thing away and please, come enjoy this wonderful animals. The most important is to keep this in your memories”. When I dive under water I am face to face with an even larger whale shark. Keep four feet away he said, right? HOW? It seems they like to play. They are called the ‘gentle giants’ for a reason. I find myself surrounded by whale sharks, no more than thirty inches distance. We swim, we fool around, they gasp for shrimps and I swim in all kinds of curves, as long as I won’t be hit by a tail. I see a diver sitting on the bottom of the sea. He enjoys this scene. I realize that it is time to get my diving certificate. I love snorkeling and have seen beautiful fish, big sea turtles and whale sharks by now – but this tastes for more (and salt). I want to discover the underwater world just as much as the surface. What a magical day.