Donsol is probably one of the few places in the world that can offer an almost assured whale shark sightings during the season. In the months of November through June whale sharks converge in the Donsol bay and stay for 6 to 7 months feeding on the rich nutrients coming out of the mouth of the Donsol river. With simple snorkelling equipment, you will be awestricken by the grandeur of these animals. If you doubt your swimming skills, do not fret – just slip on a life vest or request for a personal guide before you head out to sea. The Whale Sharks swim from surface to mid-water and with their size, they are hard to miss. The Whale Sharks are friendly to human beings and they will love your admiration. Just remember not to scare them away by touching or harassing them. Give them the respect they deserve, and they will make sure that your visit will be one that is worth a lifetime!
The whale shark interaction in Donsol is strictly a snorkelling activity. Scuba diving in Donsol Bay is not allowed for safety purposes as it is not advisable to have snorkelers and divers in the same area given that the boats are constantly on the move. There are designated scuba diving areas and you can read more about this on our Scuba Diving section.
Included with our Whale Shark Interaction program are the boat, guide, registration fees, snorkelling equipment, snacks, and bottled water.
More about the Whale Sharks in Donsol
The Whale Shark, Rhincodon Typus, is included in the list of endangered species. There are only about 1000 identified Whale Sharks worldwide. Despite the fact that studies trace the history of the Whale Shark to be 245-265 million years back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the enormity of these fish, and the fact that they swim at the ocean surface, the first known Whale Shark to man was discovered in 1828.
As the study of the Whale Shark developed, it is said that the largest annual congregation of the Whale Sharks is in Donsol, Philippines from December to May. These so-called gentle giants are migratory animals, found in warm tropical waters as they follow their food supply. They migrate to Donsol in vast numbers to take advantage of the dense food concentration of plankton and krill which is brought about by the current patterns, water temperature, and the general health of the sea.
With the discovery of the immense number of Whale Shark in Donsol and the promotion of eco-tourism in the area, efforts for the preservation of the Whale Shark has been heightened. Scientists and conservationists have also migrated to Donsol to further study these animals. By using tracking devices and photo identification, it is hoped that the mystery of these great gentle giants will be soon discovered.
In Donsol waters, typical sightings of whale sharks are between 4-12 meters in length with distinctive characteristics that include a broad, flat head, 3 prominent ridges on the upper flank, a checkerboard pattern of white spots and stripes on its blue-gray-brown-skin.
Their huge mouth (up to 2m across) is lined with thousands of tiny teeth, which is neither used for chewing nor biting. Large volumes of water are sucked into the mouth where the food is retained in the gill rakers Water is eventually released through their gill slits. Whale Sharks are rare and amazing creatures. Swimming with them is an adventure of gigantic proportions.