Whale Sharks at Donsol Philippines

Easter, 2013

I had always yearned to see a Whale shark in the water. Last year a boat had spotted one a day before us at Tubbataha Reef, and one had appeared ten days after we left Malapascua.

So I was on a mission and nothing was going to stop me. Although Oslob would have been the easiest option from Malapascua, just a short trek down from Cebu, we didn’t want to support the feeding of Whale sharks here, so opted for the more eco-friendly and sustainable Donsol instead.

Upon reaching Donsol we were told it had not been the best season for Whale sharks, this thought depressed me. But as luck would have it we did see three Whale sharks in total over two days. My favourite was a juvenile because it was a beautiful dark grey, almost black, and because it made me work for the video footage!

Having to free dive and stay under for what seemed like an eternity! No wonder I have returned to Australia in the hopes of doing a free diving course this year! They appear to be moving so slowly upon first glance, but then you realize you are finning your arse off to keep up with them.

It was a truly magnificent experience, one that was made even so much better by knowing that we were supporting a community who were doing the right thing with regards to the animal’s conservation and protection. We managed to have a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) member on our boat one day who was very interesting to talk with, and who was doing photo I.D.

He re-iterated to us the consequences of feeding Whale sharks like they do in Oslob and other places around the world. Stating that there have been reported injuries where Whale sharks have been damaged by propellers or boats, whilst trying to get closer to get food. The real danger is when Whale sharks become so friendly with the boats that they approach hunting boats in the waters of Taiwan for example, where Whale sharks are hunted and killed, and the only place on earth where there has ever been a pregnant female spotted. It made it ever more clear to me the importance of our decisions as tourists and visitors to different parts of the world, and the role that we play in these environments.

Thinking of my experience with Whales sharks is truly humbling, and something that nearly brings a tear to my eye.

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