The former sleepy town of Donsol, Sorsogon has awakened into a major tourist destination as it plays host to the seasonal migration of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, that gathers in its warm, plankton rich waters. The whale shark interaction is both an experience and an eye opener: its size just amazes and its behavior baffles the uninitiated especially if one learns for the first time that it feeds on plankton, not the ravenous and man-eating fish that films have been portraying.
For us, the experience was just exhilarating. Never mind that we were able to have this for free, thanx to the kind customer care officers who vouched for us, especially that the company sponsored the succeding week’s butanding festival, and the rich feast of seafoods later.
A photo of the whale shark dwarfing the diver at the Donsol tourist office where one can register and avail of the services. What makes this tourism endeavor commendable is that it involved and benefited the local community of fishermen who, in earlier times, fished and butchered these gentle giants for the shark fin trade for export that was in great demand in chinese restaurants here and abroad especially in Taiwan.
Colleagues trying out and renting the snorkelling equipment that is used to better see up close the whale sharks.
Costing around P2,700.oo (around $50) and a registration fee of P100.00, a group can avail of one motorized banca and these watchers, spotters and guides.
Getting into position for that close up interaction with whale sharks.
What we saw that day was just a baby whale shark but it was enough for me to shout with exhilaration as the fish passed under our boat. It was fast and elusive.