Against Whale Shark Tourism

Changing Behaviors

Some scientists worry that feeding whale sharks nearly every day might be disruptive. The natural behavior of a whale shark is to travel long distances. In Oslob, most whale sharks move on after a few days or weeks. But about 4 percent stay year-round. Scientists don’t know why. Is a pattern being created by feeding the whale sharks?

Researchers worry that the sharks may start to depend upon people for food. They may become less wary of people and boats.

A tourist touches the fin of a whale shark. Tourists are not supposed to touch them, but many do.

A bigger problem might be that the sharks connect boats with food. The sharks may be drawn to boats, hoping for a tasty handout. The tourist canoes have paddles. Yet, many other boats have propellers. The whale sharks can get hurt if they swim too close. Also, tourists are given rules to follow when they dive, but many break the rules. Will this be a problem for the whale sharks? No one is sure.

This is an aerial view of tourists in the water and in boats, interacting with whale sharks.

Whale shark tourism is controversial. Is it worth pursuing? Or not?

What do you think?