Underwater Photo of a Whale Shark at Sunrise

Swimming with Whale Sharks: Underwater Photography Gallery



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Underwater photo gallery of the best shots from swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    If you've never been in open water with a large animal like a whale shark, it's hard to describe exactly what it's like. On a primal level you're pretty scared because your 'lizard brain' is registering a huge creature shaped like a shark, swimming straight at you.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Luckily for you and your lizard brain, whale sharks eat tiny shrimp and other invertebrates swimming in the open sea. In this photo you can see the shark's huge mouth straining it's next meal out of the blue waters of the Tañon Strait while my friend Sande from Dumaguete swims underneath for a better view.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Local fishermen feed the sharks here from small outrigger fishing canoes to create a tourist attraction. This is very controversial because it is likely altering the normal migratory patterns of the sharks. It's also controversial because several sharks have been run over by motorboats and injured.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I shot all of these photos with my surf housing customized by Bali's Liquid Eye company. You can't scuba dive with this setup but it's ok to snorkel. Photo by Steve DeNeef.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I swam with the sharks for two days in Oslob. On the second day I got up before sunrise to have a better chance of getting some great lighting conditions. I lucked out with some amazing light and this sunrise shot of this whale shark is one of my favorites from the whole trip.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    You can really get a sense for how big the shark's mouth really is. I love how you can see the gallons and gallons of water pouring in at the surface in this shot.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Feeding time in Oslob. This shark follows a fisherman who's paddling a small 'bangka' sea kayak and tossing out tiny shrimp for it to eat. This shot appeared as a double page spread in the Environment Issue of Surftime magazine.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Shrimp's eye view of a whale shark. You have to swim fast to get a shot like this because whale sharks swim much faster than you might imagine.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    They're amazingly gentle animals and on both swims I had with them I went filled my memory card with new images before I even realized it.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Tiny fish swarmed around the whale sharks to get in on the feeding frenzy.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I try to practice freedive breathing techniques while I'm snorkeling to increase the amount of time I can spend underwater without a scuba tank. Photo by Steve DeNeef.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Another sunrise view of a whale shark in the early morning light.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Whale sharks swim much faster than you might think. Even though it looks like they're barely moving their tail, you'll have to swim at full speed with flippers just to keep up. In this shot you can get a sense for exactly how big these animals are as Wowow swims alongside.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Wowow shows off her speed swimming technique to keep pace with the whale sharks.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Sande watches as this huge shark swims past him.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I love the way the sun's rays refract in the early morning ocean.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    A local fisherman from Oslob freedives below a large whale shark at sunrise for a better view.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    One of the advantages of swimming with whale sharks in Oslob (as compared with the more popular Donsol) is that the water is much more clear so you can get a better view.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    The pattern of white spots on each whale shark are totally unique to each animal and can be used for identification purposes (just like a fingerprint).

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Definitely a good idea to stay clear of the huge tail of a whale shark. No doubt it would knock you out if it hit you.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    The tiny white specks in front of the shark's mouth are shrimp.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    There's something really prehistoric about the way whale sharks look.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Another view of the 'gentle giants' of the tropical seas.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Sande is used to holding his breath for a long time after all the time he's spent surfing the waves around Siargao and beyond.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    The smaller fish swimming beneath the whale sharks are called 'remoras' and are searching for scraps that the shark might miss.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Whale sharks migrate all over the world. And even after numerous studies, scientists don't really understand everything about this amazing animal.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    It's very likely that the feeding of whale sharks in Oslob will be outlawed by the Department of Natural Resources in the Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Another shot of a whale shark swimming in the blue water at sunrise.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I dove down a bit deeper to get this perspective shot of the entire whale shark. It's an awesome experience to be in the water with an animal as huge (and beautiful) as this.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Sunbeams light up a passing whale shark during a Visayan sunrise.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    I used a 16-35mm wide angle lens to get these shots. The extra focal length helped me get in the entire shark when they were near the camera.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Another shrimp's eye view of a whale shark at Oslob.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    You can really sense the shark observing you as it swims by. They don't seem to be afraid of people generally, but they are amazingly agile to avoid bumping into the people and boats at Oslob.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Speaking of bumping into people, you can see why divers are not popular at Oslob. In this picture, a diver with very bad buoyancy control gets run over by a passing shark. This was definitely not the shark's fault.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    This shot really emphasizes the 'sharkiness' of the whale sharks for me.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Another view of a whale shark swimming the blue water near Oslob in Cebu.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Several sharks have been observed to stay in Oslob beyond their typical migratory period. They seem to like the free shrimp the fishermen are handing out.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    A fish-eye view of a huge whale shark swimming above.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Snorkeling trip with the whale sharks in Oslob; Cebu, Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Snorkeling trip with the whale sharks in Oslob; Cebu, Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Snorkeling trip with the whale sharks in Oslob; Cebu, Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Snorkeling trip with the whale sharks in Oslob; Cebu, Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Snorkeling trip with the whale sharks in Oslob; Cebu, Philippines.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Sunlight filtering through the blue water of the morning sea has a magical quality to it.

  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

    Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in the Philippines
    Steve shot this photo of Sande, Wowow, and me before we jumped in to swim with the sharks. Photo by Steve DeNeef.