Plea to Miss Universe beauties: Donât swim with whale sharks

Environmentalists are asking Miss Universe candidates not to swim with whale sharks in Oslob town, saying it will be more harmful for the whale sharks in the long run. Kristine Joyce W. Campaña

Plea to Miss Universe beauties: Don’t swim with whale sharks
Kristine B. Quintas (The Freeman) - December 13, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Some netizens have pleaded for Miss Universe candidates not to swim with whale sharks in Oslob town in southern Cebu.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo earlier announced that the candidates will go whale shark watching/swimming in Oslob before returning to their respective countries on Wednesday.

 Netizens Gabriel Yap and Noel Guevara, however, posted on Facebook their opposition to the Miss Universe's plan for candidates to go swimming with whale sharks in Oslob today.

In a December 9 FB post, Yap wrote "MISS UNIVERSE PLEASE DON'T BE A BITCH TO THE ENVIRONMENT!"

Yap said Oslob's exposure to the world would further harm the sharks, as it would draw more foreign and local tourists.

"We don't need to show off whale shark watching. The Philippines has literally THOUSANDS of more beautiful sights and places for the contestants to experience. Let's not give the world the image that we're a nation that doesn't give a shit about its wildlife," he said.

"One of the planned activities for the Miss U contestants is swimming with whale sharks in Oslob – which has greatly been documented as an unethical faux-ecotourism practice that actually causes harm to the global whale shark population. Sadly, these studies have been ignored and people still continue to do it," he added.

Guevara, who shared Yap's post, also aired the same sentiment.

"I hope this doesn't push through. What an irresponsible idea to bring Miss Universe to Oslob. Bring them to Donsol instead, which has stricter interaction protocols and the whales aren't fed," Guevara said.

Environmental groups have been pointing out that feeding whale sharks is against the protocols on whale shark watching.

They said luring these whale sharks with feeds should be stopped as it alters their natural behavior to look for food.

Save Philippine Seas explains that feeding the whale sharks frozen fish means the nutritional content of their diet is reduced. It also keeps them from going into deep waters, which in turn affects their biological activities.

It said that their biological requirement for growth will not be met, delaying growth and time of maturity. This, in turn, affect the reproduction of these species, which are already considered "vulnerable" or in danger of extinction.

Despite this, the practice continues, and tourists coming.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, however, Magpale said the itinerary in Oslob today will still push through. She and other Capitol officials will accompany the Miss Universe candidates to Oslob.

Magpale, chairman of the Provincial Board's committee on tourism, said there is no ordinance or national law prohibiting the feeding of the whale sharks.

"The itinerary was planned by the organizing team of Miss Universe. We have been preparing for their arrival and we welcome them," she said.

Magpale said she was told about the opposition but didn't see the actual FB post, which was shared 84 times and garnered 212 reactions when The FREEMAN checked yesterday. (FREEMAN)

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