May 8, 2009
Two months from that date, I get a chance to see the whale sharks as my family and I travelled to Donsol to try and catch them underwater. To go to Donsol, we had to take a local flight out of Manila and land in Legazpi, where a one hour drive will take us to Donsol.
This was a trip that nearly got cancelled because of the tropical storms that very weekend! In fact, when we were onboard our plane, the pilot announced that there may be a chance the plane had to turn back to Manila if the runaway wasn't visible due to the heavy rains! Thank goodness we landed (but heard news that day that a plane scheduled for Legazpi that day DID make a U turn back to Manila airport). Still, that didn't lighten our moods as it was raining hard in that province.
After being picked up by our hotel van and having lunch at a local restaurant here, we proceeded to Donsol. It was still raining here but not that hard. The problem was that if the rain continued, we may not be able to see the Whale Sharks the next morning as they tend to stay away from the fresh water (rain water) as they couldn't breath in it. Since we were already there, there was no other choice but to see it through and hope for the best.
May 9, 2009
At around 7:30am, we were picked up by our tour guide and went to get our fins and mask and watched a short film on the whale sharks (the locals call it butanding). 30 minutes later we were boarding our bangkas and headed out to search for these fishes. Since we were a big group, we were split into two boats and wished each other luck on this trip!
There were a couple of times where our spotter saw a whale shark but by the time we jumped into the water, they were gone. It had become tiring as we kept on jumping into the water, swimming underneath it and climbing back up into the boat. After two hours, there was still no sighting. We were clearly discouraged by this and thought that the rain yesterday affected the situation today. Our expectations to see 8 whale sharks were reduced to just 1. Give us 1. At least 1! Just so we can come home and say that we saw it.
We saw the other boat and asked how many they've seen. My sister on that boat raised two fingers. Oh, we were so envious of them! But not discouraged. If they were able to spot two whale sharks, there is a chance we might spot at least 1! Our boat went to a different area and our spotter kept on looking. In the meantime, I played some games with my nephews and niece and munched on some potato chips.
A few minutes later, the spotter pointed out and said, "There is one! Jump in!". And so we quickly put on our snorkel masks and jumped into the direction he pointed at. And finally saw a whale shark. It was just the back of it as it swam into deeper water. We weren't able to go after it. It lasted for just five seconds....tops! But we were happy. We were able to see it. Our spirits were high again. We climbed back into the boat and looked for more of these fishes.
We were lucky. There was another one and no one in sight (the tendency was if there were a lot of swimmers hovering around a whale shark, it will try and get away from them). This one didn't dive but was was just swimming around us. We were able to see the entire whale shark from its mouth to its fins and to its tail. It was a baby whale shark but the feeling of swimming with it was surreal. Good thing my brother in law had an underwater camera with him and he was able to take a video of the fish.
To see what we saw, play video below:
We were able to see two more whale sharks that day. Both were huge and I had a great time swimming with them. After chasing one butanding I was tired by the time I got back to the boat. That will serve as my exercise for the day and will forego my plan of doing an easy jog around our resort.
We spent a total of 5 hours in the boat so were exhauted by the time we got back to our hotel. The other boat was able to spot 7-8 whale sharks. We weren't envious anymore as we had a good time with our own sightings. At night, we went to see some fireflies in the area and had a seafood dinner afterwards.
Drove back to Legazpi, Bicol and visited Cagsawa Ruins before taking the plane back to Manila. All in all, a very satisfied weekend getaway for all of us! Best of all, I don't even need to buy a souvenir shirt as can use my Condura Race shirt to serve as a remembrance for that race and for this trip! :)
Some other things to see/do around this area
1) Mt Mayon hiking
2) Wake boarding at Camsur
3) Zip lining