The photos say it all! Local people and tourists are atop the swimming giants, riding on their backs like everything is all well and fun. The pictures below show how the whale sharks [local name: Butanding] visiting/stranded on the shores in Oslob, Cebu Philippines have been treated.

This has to stop. Proper authorities should intervene and educate the people, especially the fishermen in the area. Whale shark is supposed to be under the protection of Philippine laws since 1998. It is one of the vulnerable species listed by the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

I really thought that the issue involving the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu has been resolved last month when a Technical Working Group was created by the Capitol through Executive Order No. 01-2012 to make sure the whale sharks are protected from human exploitation. However, the recent photos are telling otherwise. No law or policy has been followed. Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia should revisit this issue and look into a more stringent enforcement of the ordinance.

Look at the rest of the pictures and tell me what you think. Is this right?

The whale shark as a surf board? Are you kidding me?

According to a report, these are the guidelines that locals and tourists are supposed to follow:

– do not touch or ride the whale shark

– do not restrict the movement of the whale shark, or impede its natural path

– maintain a distance of 3 meters from the head or body of the whale shark, and 4 meters from its tail

– do not use flash photography

– a maximum of 6 swimmers per whale shark is allowed, and only 1 boat per whale shark.

Which guidelines have been violated? Without taking into account photography, everything!

Update 1: While concerned netizens are spreading the photos online and angry of the unlucky fate of the whale sharks, Oslob Mayor Ronal Guarin denied that the incident took place in their town.

Update 2: “Save Philippine Seas” posted on Facebook that the pictures were taken in Boljoon, a town very near Oslob.

Update 3: From “Save Philippine Seas”

Update re. whale shark that was tied up & used as a “surfboard” in Boljoon, Cebu last March 31, 2012: we got info from Physalus that it was indeed a stranding & the butanding was eventually released soon afterwards. Efforts are now being organized to educate the locals on how to deal with such situations. Physalus is putting together a report to clarify what really happened. We’ll post more info as they become available. Thanks to everyone for reporting this incident.

Credits go to the person who posted the pictures on Facebook.