Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines

Donsol, Sorsogon, is the  town where I came from in the Southern Philippines.  It is the place where you can see a lot of the friendly Whaleshark or locally known as  Butanding.
Map of Sorsogon showing the location of Donsol
Donsol had been a town known for its existence as a popular tourist destination where, in the bordering sea, whale sharks can be seen. Donsol is considered the unofficial 'Whale Shark Capital of the World' with the largest number of recorded sightings of these gentle giants anywhere in the world. Swimming with whale sharks had been ranked as the Best Animal Encounter in Asia by Time magazine in 2004.
These creatures can be seen all-year round except when there is currently a typhoon, their presence is peaking between February and May.

Interaction with the whale sharks is regulated by the local department office. With the help of WWF strict guidelines were developed to protect the sharks. These include limiting the number of swimmers per boat (six), no scuba divers and staying further than three meters from the sharks. In practise this rule is almost never applied. As many as 14 boats at a time may 'mob' a shark, with up to 30 or 40 swimmers following the shark on the surface.

In recent years the number of male sharks have out-numbered female sharks by 20:1. The females that are seen are generally large mature adults in the 7m ~ 9m range. Increasing numbers of sharks show propellor marks on their backs. Anecdotal evidence from local fishermen suggests that prop strikes are from fishing boats in the off-season, rather than from tourist boats in the main Jan ~ May tourist season.
In 2006 five sharks were found dead on the surface, within 30 miles of Donsol. They had all been shot at close range. One shark had 13 bullet wounds to the head. The locals blame this on commercial fishermen shooting the sharks if they are caught in their nets. Mantas, which are also protected in the Philippines, are also over fished and sold in local markets in the Sorsogon area.

Tourism continues to develop slowly in Donsol. This is mostly due to the lack of any real tourist infrastructure. Groups from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines make up the largest groups of visitors. Most book guided tours with dive centers familiar with whale shark interaction.

Below are photos  when we first  went for a vacation in my hometown with the kids.  My husband and son  have celebrated their birthdays there and we went  and tried diving and swimming with the Butanding or whalesharks.

The photo I took of the whaleshark isn't really clear but it's god enough.

15 Smart Readers SAID::

photowannabe said...

Very interesting and it must have been exciting to swim with them.

Kathy said...

What a great adventure.
Have a delightful day.

Judy said...

There is so little information available about whale sharks! I am fascinated by them! I am so jealous that you got to see them!!!

Chronicles of Illusions said...

Such a terrific adventure

Mel Alarilla said...

Someday I will go to Donsol to see those butandings. I will also indulge in one of my most cherished dream- to go deep sea fishing. Thanks for the nostalgic post. God bless you all always.

Shooting Parrots said...

My daughter went swimming with whale sharks in South Africa last year and said it was an amazing experience. I'm not sure I'd be quite so brave!

Gattina said...

Interesting post with beautiful pictures ! Would like to go there right away !
ABC team

Unknown said...

thank you for sharing,great article.Love the pix

Dhemz said...

never pa akong nakakita nito sis.

Jess PJ said...

Whalesharks are quite impressive!

JayLeigh said...

What incredible animals! Thank you so much for sharing about them.

Roger Owen Green said...

I saw Albay, and mistook it for Albany, which is where I live!

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Fashion Momma said...

Oh wow! How fun!

Hope you'd find time to visit me here.

Unknown said...

wow ganda naman jan sis....gusto ko magbeach tuloy hehehe

here for BM!


The French Hutch said...

Great photos. I'm sure it must be a beautiful place. Love the family snap..........Visiting over from BM

The French Hutch

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