The quiet seaside town of Oslob gained international publicity after the local government began sanctioning the feeding of whale sharks in the fishing Barangay of Tan-Awan in 2012. What began as a small tourist operation has skyrocketed into a booming industry that continues to grow, mostly unregulated, each year. While the activities in Oslob have resulted in a large boost to the local economy, they raise ongoing conservation and sustainability concerns.
As soon as the people of Tan-Awan started feeding the whale sharks for tourism in late 2011, LAMAVE identified this region as an important source of insight into the long-term ecological and behavioral effects of tourism on these animals, and also on the socio-economic impacts on the local community. In 2012, LAMAVE set up a research base and began monitoring whale sharks in Oslob through daily photo identification and behavioral surveys. We have deployed multiple temperature-depth-recorder tags on local whale sharks to understand their local habitat use and diving behaviour.
LAMAVE has an active information, education, and communication campaign in Oslob. Our researchers visit local schools, offer film screenings, conduct community art projects and give lectures on plastic pollution, sustainability, coral reefs, and whale sharks.