100 Days Journey

Day 36: Swimming with Whalesharks- 10 Minutes of Bliss

I posted on my Facebook page the question, “How many will I swim with today?” I don’t know why comments start with 20 then 30, then an obvious papansin 100 and 10,000. Truth is I was able to swim with two and to sum the whole story up, I would say it was “10 Minutes of solid bliss.”

Finally! After about a year of dreaming I was able to have a close encounter with the Whalesharks in Donsol. And yes, it was like I was still dreaming but this time under the sea. There were 3 butanding sightings before I swam with the first one. I guess they were shy of surfacing in front of about 50 snorkelers.

I was speechless on the first encounter. For some seconds, I forgot everything, I was bedazzled, amazed, awed, yes add all the synonyms of the adjectives I just typed.

The whaleshark was just swimming gently, softly, undistracted by the flock of tourists swimming above it. It was surreal to be swimming with a shark as big as that. Someone said it was 12 meters long, I don’t know but sure thing it was BIG, as in BIG BIG. I would say as big as a bus. After some seconds it went deeper and it was gone just like that. I was of course, “bitin.”

I went back to the boat and my heart was really beating fast. Tweeted as fast as I could, “It was surreal! I swam with one.” I was ticking-off one from by bucketlist and was so proud to finally saw one. If there was a trampoline I would have jump again and again, yes, for joy! After about 30 minutes of spotting and waiting, another one was there. Two boats came first and there were already about 12 swimmers following the gentle giant. Before I jumped, I examined the movement of the whale and then off I plunged into the water…

This time the butanding is much smaller, about eight meters long (I know, it’s still big). At first I was above its tail but then I got my swimming mojo and was flipping my fins like a dolphin. I was like a meter close the whaleshark, following its direction and noticing some small fishes on its skin. For 10 solid minutes I was just there, peacefully swimming with the whaleshark. I don’t know how to compare the experience- but you could say that it was like __________ (fill the blank with anything you think is blissful, unbelievable and paradise). Like making love probably, but in a different way. Now, I want to kick myself for not bringing an underwater camera.

I didn’t mind the horde of people trying to paddle towards the white-dotted great-sized creature. I was just there trying to go with the flow, to follow, observing every detail as long as I can. It’s a plus plus that I can swim and I know how to use my flippers and my snorkeling gear.

I can see the humongous gills, the flippers, the big mouth, the beautiful white dots on its skin, the small eyes, its gentleness, its wide tail, the other marine creatures swimming with it, the bubbles of the water from other swimmers. I can feel that my legs are about to retire. I really wondered how come a creature this big is 100% harmless.

For 10 complete minutes I forgot about everything- no worries, no problems, no lovelife, no nothing. I even forgot that I’m doing a 100 Days Challenge.

It was an experience worth doing again. An experience worth sharing to the next generation. An adventure everyone should experience.

Thank you Donsol, for taking care of these gentle giants. Donsol has so much more to offer like river tour and firefly watching but I was contented with renting a bike to riding the outskirts of the town until sunset. By dinner time, I saw a small eatery near the town proper and ordered laing and Bicol express for only Php49, two cups of rice included.

If I’m going to pay for the whole experience it would cost me at little less than Php1,000 and would definitely affect my daily allowance. So what I did was offer an x-deal with the Donsol Tourism office through Sir Jayrick who allowed me to join the tour group for free. I just need to bring my snorkeling gears and flippers. You see, if you are really committed in doing something, money will never be an issue. The biggest challenge would be yourself.

Tips for those who want to experience the whalesharks:

1. Practice your swimming skills. It’s a plus if you are a strong swimmer as there are lots of time you have to swim towards the whaleshark.

2. Learn to use your snorkeling gear and learn the art of flipping.

3. Observe the movement of the whaleshark before plunging into the sea. Listen to your the guide.

4. Bring your underwater camera. Kicks myself again!

5. Bring lots of water (and food too). It’s tiring and hot out there.

6. Be patient. They will come out.

7. If its possible, do this on a weekday. Invite your friends to join you on a trip, 6 people share for one boat.

8. Season of Whalesharks are from February till early June.

_____ _____ __________ _____ ∞ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Whaleshark (Rhincodon typus)

Whalesharks are migratory creatures. Meaning they travel thousands of miles and are not supposed to stay in one place. Caution: Whaleshark Watching in Cebu is a very wrong tourism practice as they are like dogs on a leash there. They live for 70-100 years, very much like the sea turtles.They are the world’s largest fish but are totally harmless.  There are even some accounts wherein they play with humans and allow humans to clean them of parasites. Please avoid touching whalesharks since human hands have oil and bacteria. When our hands come in contact with the whaleshark’s skin, their invisible protective becomes affected making them more vulnerable to parasites. Their diet includes krill, planktons, small squids and jellyfish and yet they don’t have teeth. The patterns or spots on their skin are unique of each other and scientist use this to identify them.

_____ _____ __________ _____ ∞ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Route: Donsol, Sorgoson

Total Expenses for today: Php619

10- bread
250- snorkling gear and flippers
125- sinigang na isda
20- extra rice
150- bike rental
15- 1/2 kilo banana
49- dinner
Whaleshark watching fee c/o Donsol Tourism Office (Sir Jayrick)
Php 619


Day 36: Swimming with Whalesharks- 10 Minutes of Bliss

Leave a Reply

4 − = one



Day 36: Swimming with Whalesharks- 10 Minutes of Bliss June 13, 2016