Please Don’t Feed the Whale Sharks?

Hannah Reyes Morales

The chance to swim with the world’s biggest fish drew tourists to a Philippines town, but conservation groups denounce the hand-feeding that keeps the gentle creatures around.
In an assignment for The New York Times, Hannah Reyes Morales explored the difficult questions being asked about a controversial relationship between an endangered species and a community grappling for survival.

Whale sharks have come back every morning to the waters of Tan-Awan, a community of 2000 people, whose fishermen provision the whale sharks with uyap, or sergestid shrimp – a deviation from their natural diet. Provisioning has also altered the whale sharks’ diving behavior, spending more time near the surface and resulting in significantly more scarring and abrasions on their bodies from boats and other floating hazards than those in non-provisioning sites.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

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