Finally, I’ve seen the gentle giants (in fact our group has seen 12!!!) of Donsol, Sorsogon – in the flesh ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, we’ve been to Donsol last Monday (April 30) – a 2-hour drive from where I live (Payawin, Gubat, Sorsogon) but I otherwise wouldn’t have been to if my friends from Sta. Rosa, Laguna and as far as Olongapo City didn’t come.
The boat for butanding interaction costs 3,500 pesos for a maximum of 7 persons (children below 12-years old need not register and is not counted in the 7-person capacity of the boat).
After which, the visitors will be briefed inside an audio-visual room where a video presentation was prepared to inform the public of the safety precautions, dos and donts during butanding interaction.
We really liked the fact that everything is already that organized. (i hate haggling with boatmen for the cost).
And then each group will be assigned a BIO (butanding interaction officer) which will then take your group to a motor boat manned by 4 persons (2 boatmen and 2 butanding spotters).
(The guys assigned to us, led by BIO Jerry Militante, were really very good, very courteous and friendly and even answered all of our silly questions. Salamatonon po!)
Boats are being dispatched starting 730 am to 2 pm. The visitors’ center is open daily, even on Sundays and holidays.
However, for sure sightings of the whalesharks (butandings) it is best to go before 10 am.
Each boat is only allowed three hours at sea for the sighting (and interaction) in order to accomodate more visitors.
We saw 12 (i think 13 even!) butandings in a span of almost 2 hours in the open sea.
We’ve been told to be very lucky because the day before us, Elizabeth Oropesa’s (yes, La Oro herself) group was out there in that same boat where we were on from 11 am -1 pm and saw none. That day, there were 25 boats and only 1 butanding sighted. Imagine, poor butanding!
And then when we went, there were only 10 boats but still we saw 12-13 butandings.
Too bad, nobody in our group was brave enough to snorkel in the water near a butanding (this can be done as well, the BIO will guide you if you are able to do so), for it would have been a mind-blowing experience.
Looking at those gentle giants just beneath the water’s surface was already out-of-this-world amazing…so we skipped snorkelling…hmm…maybe next time!
Suffice to say that it was an experience we were all grateful not to miss. So, you should too.
December – May is the time of year to go, when whalesharks are most abundant in the island with a peak of March to May when they feed on the plankton-rich waters of Donsol.
Be sure not to miss it!
Can you really see that dark gentle and playful giant lurking just beneath the surface? Of course you can’t! That’s why you have to go to see them with your own eyes.
P.S. After the interaction time, your assigned BIO will secure each one who went with an official butanding interaction certificate. How’s that for a souvenir?!
[Photo Credit: Lakbay Pinay]
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