What comes to your mind when you hear the word? Hmmm.. Probably ‘dangerous’, ‘scary’ or ‘life threatening creature’. That’s what I thought.
When I was a kid, I love reading the encyclopedia (sad to say, no internet for me that time). Well it’s not that I was really reading, I was just looking at the pictures and my favorite was the letter S encyclopedia which I used to remove from the shelf all the time. I remember I would carry it everywhere and browse the different kinds of sharks—the, , blue sharks, and . I love looking at the pictures and just by looking, I knew that these creatures are extremely dangerous. I never thought, not even slight imagination, that I’d get to have a close encounter with one of them!
Generally, sharks have bad reputation because they attack humans. But it was summer last year when a magical experience changed my view about sharks. Not all of them are responsible for such attacks. The whale sharks, locally known as butandings, are enormous in size, but they are gentle and docile that it is safe to swim with them. They are known as the gentle giants because they don’t pose any threats to humans. Amazingly, I was able to play with these magnificent creatures in the water. The life threatening sharks I once thought it was was right there a few feet away from me gliding and drifting!
Here’s how our memorable trip went….
As soon as we reached visited before going to Donsol) Tip: If you’re planning to experience this adventure, the best months to visit are February to April., we headed straight to the tourist center to register but we scheduled the encounter for the next day since it was already afternoon and we were tired (we
We were asked to watch a short video about the rules and regulations for whale shark interactions. Although the butandings are harmless, it is still very important to follow the rules not only for us humans but also for the sake of these wonderful creatures! Violators will be sent back to land!
Our schedule was 9am so we went early to the tourist center the next day where we met the boatmen and the BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer, if I remember it right). The BIO or “spotters” are men in-charge of looking around and confirming a butanding sighting.
We waited for the whale sharks for like 20 minutes. Then finally, our BIO said “ok ready!” and we all jumped right away to catch the big thing!
I got mixed emotions on our first encounter. It was really huge I felt like it was going to swallow me whole and I got scared. Even though our BIO said the butandings are harmless I can’t ignore the thought that they are still sharks! haha! The first encounter was the best. I saw the whale shark very clearly, from it’s huge mouth to its tail. Good thing we got complete gears, we were able to catch up!
Every single minute I’ve spent swimming with these magnificent creatures gave me the best adrenalin rush I’ve ever had in my life so far!
After our encounters with the whale sharks, we bought a shirt with butanding printed on it. We’re not really into shirts for souvenirs but this one is a unique experience so we bought one! haha!
Look how happy we were after swimming with the gentle giants! We were also so tired but it was all worth it!
This unforgettable adventure is extremely different from all the other trips I’ve had. No white beach, no night parties, no sunbathing… just the most remarkable natural encounters… a truly magical experience…
Again… Mother Nature at its pristine best!