By David Loh
Tan-awan, Philippines, March 12(Reuters) – Tan-awan, in the
southern Philippines island of Cebu, used to be a sleepy village
that never saw tourists unless they were lost or in transit. Yet
now they flock there by the hundreds – to swim with whale
sharks, the world’s largest fish.
Whale sharks are lured to the Tan-awan coastline of the
Oslob district by fishermen who hand feed them small shrimp,
drawing divers and snorkelers to see the highly sought-after
animals, known as gentle giants of the sea.
By David Loh
Anticipation was high as we started up our boat in the capital, Male, and headed to Maldives’ remote northern Baa atoll. Our destination; the geologically unique Hanifaru Bay. The bay is so small that you could walk around the island in a ten-minute stroll. Every year, hundreds of manta rays and a handful of whale sharks gather for their annual feeding frenzy of plankton in July and August.
Baa Atoll was recently declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and for reasons of conservation, word has it that the Maldives is likely to shut down Hanifaru Bay to divers. This season might just be the last chance to dive inside the bay. That’s where Tan Shung Sin, my colleague from the Singapore Global Pictures desk, and I ventured to capture images.