The Philippines is home to the world’s third largest population of whale sharks, according to global database WhaleShark.org. A recent satellite tagging study by LAMAVE, which tracked a number of sharks and found none left the archipelago, confirmed the importance of this destination for these endangered creatures.
In terms of visiting as a tourist, Southern Leyte and Tubbataha are the best areas to aim for. Being totally frank, it’s best to avoid the most-publicized (and overcrowded) site, Oslob, because operators feed the sharks to maximize sightings. This can be problematic because sharks that rely on humans can change their migration patterns—hanging around the same area for a reliable source of food—and risk malnourishment from a poor diet. Choose your destination and operator wisely. Let’s face it, those who prioritize profits over the wellbeing of the animals, aren’t going to care whether you have an enjoyable and safe encounter either.
When to visit: February to April