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Feeding of whale sharks attracts tourists, criticism

David Loh / Reuters

A juvenile whale shark approaches a feeder on a paddleboat off the beach of Tan-awan, Oslob, in the southern Philippines island of Cebu February 28.

David Loh / Reuters

Whale sharks looking for food approach paddleboats off the beach of Tan-awan, Oslob, in the southern Philippines island of Cebu, March 1.

David Loh / Reuters

A whale shark approaches a feeder boat off the beach of Tan-awan, Oslob, in the southern Philippines island of Cebu March 1.

David Loh / Reuters

Snorkelers swim next to a whale shark as it approaches a feeder boat off the beach of Tan-awan, Oslob, in the southern Philippines island of Cebu March 1. 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. But the practice has sparked fierce debate on the internet and among biologists, who decry it as unnatural.

By David Loh, 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.But the practice has sparked fierce debate on the internet and among biologists, who decry it as unnatural.

"Some people are asking that we stop feeding, but if we stop feeding, what is our livelihood?" said Ramonito Lagahid, vice chairman of the Tan-awan Oslob Sea Warden and Fishermen Association (TOSWFA). "We have to go back to fishing." Continue reading.