Monday, February 9, 2009

Swimming with the Whale sharks - Donsol

Cherie McCosker recently blogged about her eco tour experience with Whale sharks in Donsol, Philippines.

Her article is right on target but misses the larger point of the purpose of shark tourism in many regions worldwide:

"My German companion came back on the boat exclaiming, "You should have seen it, you could see the Whale shark get angry. All of a sudden it thrashed about and dove down to the depths of the sea".

As was blogged about a few months ago these animals were once hunted in that region. With the advent of high dollar Whale shark tourism the hunting stopped. Unfortunately local fishermen still kill sharks for squalene (kudos Diveshopp Blog) but these are deep water species that will probably never be monetized by shark tourism. In region after region worldwide when local populations see a financial incentive to keep sharks they do and the catalyst for that sea change is usually shark tourism.

Ms. McCoskers article talks about people touching and molesting Whale sharks under the guise of shark tourism and she has a solid point. But in the larger picture of animals no longer killed in the region one could argue that while imperfect, shark tourism does stop the killing of sharks.

We'll take that as a win.


Cherie McCosker said...

Hi, Cherie McCosker here. I completely understand your blog entry and I take your point.

My blog never intended to take away from the reason why eco-tourism was there in the first place - as a means to stop the hunting. I did mention that in my last paragraph - in a positive light.

The point to my blog entry was about how the Code of Conduct, to protect the sharks from future harm, wasn't being adhered to. I found this disappointing, because for several years I have been using the Donsol experience as a best practise eco-tourism example.

You are perfectly right in that eco-tourism is a step in the right direction, and I'm fully supportive of these initiatives. However, let's all work together to ensure the process is followed, so that the whalesharks don't come to any more harm.

Shark Diver said...

Agreed and let us reiterate your post was well written and to the point.

Our industry is one that frequently changes protocols to the detriment of sharks in some cases. We're not a perfect industry but one that is coming aware of itself.

Posts like yours serve as reminders that everyone is watching. Thanks!