Whale Sharks in Donsol, Bicol

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Albay's neighboring province to the south, Sorsogon, is host to one of the highest concentration of Whale Sharks in the world. These creatures have been frequenting the waters off Donsol, Sorsogon for generations and in 1998, the Philippine Department of Tourism declared this area an official sanctuary for the Whale Shark, thus protected this fascinating species.

Although Whale Sharks, or "Butandingas they are locally known, are enormous in size and power, reaching lengths greater than 15 meters, they are remarkably gentle and docile enough that it is generally safe to swim among them. Swimming among the whale sharks is a captivating experience. If you are not comfortable swimming in the waters, then it is just as amazing to experience them from the boat. The Butanding swim alongside the boat all the time.

whale shark donsol

Photo source

Generally, the whale sharks at Donsol swim very close to the surface of the water. Some basic snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins and a water vest) are just about you'll need in the water to be able to experience swimming among them.

What to bring: Although food is available at a number of locations in Donsol, you can bring your own if you want to enjoy a picnic there. If you plan to eat at Donsol, check with the Donsol Tourism Office for accredited eating establishments. Bring plenty of water.

You can bring along your snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, fins and water vest) but if you don't have any, these are also available for rental at the Donsol Tourism Office. Bring your swimsuits, towels, camera, some sun screen, sunglasses, a change of clothes, slippers, as well as sealable plastic bags to keep valuables. You can bring your own Life vest, but these are also available on the boat.

Out in the Water: While there are no guarantees of being able to see the Whale Sharks, you can count on it that if you are there in the right time and season, it can literally take only a few minutes after leaving shore before you come across the first ButandingGenerally, you do not need to be out in deep waters in order to interact with the Whale Sharks. Your BIO will point them out and educate you on how to spot them, as well as provide additional information you need to know during the experience. The BIO's are quite knowledgeable and friendly, and are willing to answer your questions. When the BIO feels that the situation is ideal, he will instruct the crew on the boat's approach to the whale shark, and take the lead in getting you ready for the experience.

Source: tourism.albay.gov.ph

Teaser photo source: www.sergeyphoto.com