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Butanding (Whale Shark) Watching in Sorsogon, Philippines

The Butanding is such a fabulous creature.


The Butanding - A Gentle Giant

I've seen a beached Whale Shark in my youth. The sight of this mighty mammal stunned me. Kids like mylsef in "Pantalan", the Magallanes village by the sea, played on it. It was caught in a giant fish trap made of bamboo in the deep waters off Magallanes.

I was about 11 or 12 years old then, probably towards the end of my grade school years (still uncircumcized). The mammoth creature was an interesting sight, indeed. From what I gathered then, the gigantic fish was trapped inside offshore fish pens made of bamboo posts, called "Kinavite".

By the time I saw the lifeless whale shark, children were just gathering around it, abandoned in a corner of our town's pier.
Dunno how it died. But from what I can remember, it was really HUMONGOUS that the children who played around it were simply dwarfed by its size. A motor boat dragged that poor Butanding ashore when the fishermen were sure that it's already dead.

The Butanding is not only said to be the largest fish. It is also one of the gentlest animals in the world. Eco-tourist and environmentalists who have experienced interaction with the Gentle Giant speaks of such beauty and wonder. It is good that both the national and local government have already instituted measures to protect and conserve these endangered species and their territory.

The presence of the Whale Shark in Sorsogon, especially in Donsol (which is more accessible from the City than the fal-flung Magallanes town), has spawned the flow of tourists in this once-sleepy fishing village. Old folks say the Butanding, as the Whale Sharks are locally known, have been frequenting the area for decades even before their discovery by the modern-day media.