There are plenty of things to do on holiday: drive around the mountains, enjoy a cocktail on the beach, hang out with 21 tonne fish… Yep, that’s right. 21 tonne fish. What do you mean you’ve never swum with a 15 metre long Wale Shark on holiday before? You’ve never lived!
If you ever find yourself in Donsol, a (formerly) sleepy fishing village in Sorsogon in the Philippines and you enjoy nature, your best bet is to head – along with the other whale fans – straight into the sea. At certain times of the year, the sea off Sorsogon attract hundreds of these huge aquatic beasts because of the unusual amount of plankton and krill (the Wale Shark’s preferred snacks) in the waters round that way.
Thousands of tourists head to swim with the Wale Sharks each season (February – June) because of the sea giants’ reputation for being friendly to humans (they’re not aggressive in any way and are more than happy to swim with divers). March is said to be the prime month for swimming with these charming big fish because of how calm the waters are around that time. Local companies that run boats for tourists guarantee at least a dozen-odd Wale Sharks can be spotted and swum with in any given day. Their temperament is tied in with their eating habits. Munching exclusively on tiny fish (or ‘filter feeding’), with their mammoth 1.5 metre wide mouths, means they don’t need to show aggression in the wild. Though you can accidentally get sucked into their gigantic mouths!
When you’re in the Philippines, you’ll need to call the Wale Sharks ‘Butanding’. Failing that you could just point to a 100 peso bill – ‘Butanding’ are so popular over there that they even feature on their bank notes.
You register, rent a boat and snorkelling equipment (unless you bring your own), watch a ‘how to shark gaze’ video and head out… Remember what we said about accidentally getting swallowed? Well, we meant it. Don’t get within 3 metres of the butanding. Unless you fancy the idea of being eaten by a massive whale.
Suggested shark-heavy beaches are: Tolong Gapo beach, Manta Bowl, Matnog Island, beach, Rizal beach, Subic Island, Calintaan Island and Duncalan Beach.
Does hanging out with 21 tonne fish appeal to you? Or would you much prefer a book and a Calippo in the sun…?Author's Google+ Page