Whale Shark Capital of the World Your Next Vacation Destination in the Philippines

Shark seeing will be among the highlights of that Philippines has to offer when you are planning to take a extreme vacation adventure in the Philippines. If you are intrigue to visit this popular tourist attraction for the whale sharks in the Philippines your destination is in Donsol, Sorsogon- the Whale Shark Capital of the World.

Donsol is a popular tourist destination for the whale sharks that can be seen in the bordering seas. Swimming with whale sharks was featured as the Best Animal Encounter in Asia by Time Magazine in 2004. Since the discovery of hundreds of whale sharks congregating in the town of Donsol, Sorsogon the place became a word of mouth passed on to every tourist exploring the Philippines. Their presence became a major income generator, as thousands arrive each season to swim and witness the friendly behavior of these giant fish, bringing high revenue to an economy initially reliant to fishing and cottage industry alone.

The presence of whale Sharks in the town of Donsol was known to the local residents over 100 years. But the locals believed these gentle giants where sharks and dangerous. This wrong notion changed when in January 1998, a group of scuba divers led by Romir Aglugub – a PADI diving instructor, discovered its presence, and interacted and came in contact with the Whale Sharks. Even the members of the diving group of Romir was having second thought if the fish is docile, until the instructor led the way into the water and came in contact with the whale shark.

Copy of video footage taken by the group was passed on to the media and the WWF-Philippines. The original amateur video is on file by the Instructor as proof of the first video recording of the Discovery. Contrary to the fears and hearsays this large whale shark “butanding” are harmless because it is a filter feeder. It was also discovered by a marine biologist that it is ovoviviparous which simply means that the female butanding produces live offspring from eggs hatched in her uterus. By March 1998, Donsol became world-class tourist destination and now known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World”.

Whale sharks can be seen between November and June, with presence peaking between February and May. These gentle giants arrive from as early as November but the official season starts from February and runs until end of May, where the sea of Donsol is at its clearest and calmest. Local tourism officials and professional divers have established guidelines on proper whale shark watching intended to maintain safety and to defend the creatures from over exploitation. Iteraction with the whale sharks is regulated by the local Department of Tourism (DOT) office. WWF guidelines are generally observed to protect the sharks. Rules include limiting the number of swimmers per boat to six, no scuba divers and staying further than three meters from the sharks. In practice many of these rules are broken on a daily basis. 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. Most sharks are touched at least once during every interaction, accidentally by brushing with the fins, or deliberately

Previous practiced by fishermen of hunting and plundering the stock of whale sharks as extra income because of the shark's high demand for their meat for the delicacies, aphrodisiac and the medicinal by-products was also a headache to the government. As to preserve its number, the Philippine government has banned this practice and declared the whale shark as an endangered species in 1998. In return the fishermen were educated about the value of whale sharks and trained as tour guides as their alternate livelihood especially during the fishing lean season. At the same time the government and the people are working hand in hand to protect the eco tourism of the country.

Already eager to take your shark seeing vacation destination in the Philippines? Surely you can personally see, swim and interact with these gentle giants. So here is a simple tips that might help when you reach the place: hire a boat, a spotter, find a shark and slip in the water along side the creature. No flash cameras are forbidden since flash photography are not allowed so don't bothered in looking for one and be sure you have your Scuba gears (rental is available) and snorkeling gears before going. The town of Donsol, Sorsogon, holds and celebrates Annual Butanding Festival in the month of April so it is also a good idea to visit the place during that period as to enjoy the party within the place.

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Philippine Best Vacation Destination gives you guide and overview of popular tourist spots in the Philippines. Each featured tourist destination in this blog will guide you to find places of your interest in the Philippines, things to do and how to get there. Also included is information on interesting Philippine festivals that truly suits for your reference when you look for the best place for vacation destination in the Philippines.

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