Move Forward and Never Be Still

I Saw The Butanding!

I Saw The Butanding!
Had my photo shoot while waiting for my friends to wake up.

The moment we have all been waiting for! After a night of endless singing, eating and chatting, we started our search for the world-famous, largest fish there is! The Whale Shark or locally known as Butanding. My friends woke up a bit late so Heiz and I bummed around and had our breakfast in one of the huts in the resort grounds. Heiz had a feast while I did a short photoshoot along the shoreline.

Donsol is a sleepy little town in the rustic Sorsogon province. Its raw, countryside feel made me wonder what their lives will be without the discovery of this gentle giant. As we waited for our boat and watched the orientation video at the tourism office, I silently prayed that we will see one that day. Just a few seconds of her swimming lazily in the warm waters of Donsol turned us all to human mega phones. We were literally screaming our lungs out as pure amazement dawned before our eyes. 

Hearty breakfast!

We did not have the opportunity to swim with her or even had a chance to flip our fins and feet for a mere five seconds. Sightings were so rare that on this day I think we were the only group fortunate enough to see one. Our BIO or Butanding Interaction Officer told us that there were no sightings at all the previous day which was the most saddening news I have heard of. But our spotters, all standing tall, were keen to see a live one. Before the three-hour time was up, we docked at a shallow part of the sea and enjoyed the waters a bit.

Underwater shots in the seas of Donsol, Sorosogon
Seeing fish swimming in the seas is a blessing from God
The Butanding did not come back anymore but we did not waste time taking a few shots!
Marx, Chino, Elal, Me and Heiz
We were told that the Butanding sightings had a steady decline in the last few years. From numbering to more than 200 in 2010, it went down to a mere 40-plus this 2012. An output caused by the worsening climate change. Our boatman, who were real fishermen by profession, confessed that before they somewhat harbor ill-feelings towards these animals. Growing up to a size even larger than a normal boat, their propellers would sometimes get smashed by the unaware whale sharks, greatly affecting the locals’ livelihood. The good news is, these fishermen, who were almost condemning the butandings before are now their friends and protectors.

Just enjoying the breeze touching my face

I listened attentively just when kuya’s face lit up when he saw the Butanding from underneath. I will never forget that look on his face which resulted to a domino effect. Heiz screaming her lungs out upon seeing that wide head and spots, me forgetting to put on my fins and Elal almost bumping into an approaching boat. 😀  The rest, realizing the Butanding has changed directions, just watched from our boat and waited for us to come back.

Our moment with the butanding lasted for less than five minutes. A rather short and hazy memory around the edges. However, her lazy glide left a deep mark in our hearts. We were awed that the now-flawed cycle of nature still did not fail us. A sign there is still hope for a bright future for these magnificent creatures.

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