Whale Sharks of Donsol

Whale sharks are elusive creatures. You don’t just happen upon them. By 1986, there had only been 320 recorded sightings globally. With increasing research, including better tagging and counting methods, the numbers of sightings have steadily climbed, especially in the plankton-rich feeding grounds off Belize, Honduras, Western Australia and the Philippines. Today, the total number of whale sharks in the Philippines alone is estimated to be 327. Of these, 122 sharks have been identified off the coast of Donsol this season. And that’s where we spent the last week snorkeling in the bay. Unbelievable! Watch this video so you can share this amazing experience with us.

Although whale sharks ARE sharks, they don’t feed on humans but rather on plankton and small fish (which was very comforting to know). I can’t even imagine how much they must eat to get to their full size. The largest ever confirmed specimen was 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) long and weighed more than 21.5 tonnes (47,000 lb). But unconfirmed sightings of sharks up to 18 meters (59 ft) have also been reported. Well, maybe next time. By the way, the biggest whale shark we saw in Donsol was about 10 meters (32 ft) – it was like swimming next to a jumbo jet.

4 responses to “Whale Sharks of Donsol”

  1. I think I was holding my breath the whole time watching this.

  2. avatar Tony says:

    We were holding our breath too trying to film this. You can’t scuba dive in Donsol, only snorkel, so all the footage was shot while dipping down for a minute at a time.

  3. avatar carrieannmarco says:

    Keep on doing what you are doing. I LOVE it! Showing this to my Sustainable Tourism Class tomorrow. 27 students – all from South East Asia and India. Thank you so much for sharing with a video! xoxo Thank you for the blog.

  4. avatar Thomas says:

    Carrie Ann,

    When you show the video to your class, make sure to talk about the blog “The Whale Shark Encounter” from May 5, 2010 which documents the guide’s and visitor’s behaviors. Whale shark tourism saves these animals but it’s a work in progress.

    In the video, have you noticed Tony swimming around with a snorkel in his hand? Just as we jumped into the water to see the biggest of the sharks, Tony’s mouth piece came off. Instead of climbing back onto the boat to fix it, he continued following the shark. But halfway through, I was gracious enough to give him my snorkel. That’s what friends are for… 😉

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