19 new whale sharks sighted in Donsol, Sorsogon waters

HSBC Philippines
New whale sharks in Donsol
A whale shark with a school of barracuda in Tubbataha, Philippines © Simon Lorenz / WWF-HK

Nineteen new whale sharks have been sighted in Donsol, Sorsogon waters since the beginning of 2020.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines recorded the new sightings of the whale sharks, locally known as “butanding,” swimming in the waters of Ticao-Burias Pass Protected Seascape (TBPPS).

The TBPPS is a critical ecosystem nestled between the provinces of Masbate, Sorsogon, and Albay. The area is home to numerous endangered marine species, including the whale shark.

Whale sharks are billed as the biggest fish in the world and have been listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species since 2016.

The gentle giants were found coasting in the waters of Donsol, a known marine biodiversity hotspot in the Philippines. The whale sharks were identified as part of WWF-Philippines’ ongoing effort to protect the TBPPS ecosystem.

Whale shark photo from WWF Philippines

WWF-Philippines maintains its daily whale shark monitoring operations, despite the temporary suspension of tourism activity in the TBPPS due to ongoing lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID 19.

“It’s important that we continue our whale shark monitoring efforts despite the lockdown. It’s our obligation as WWF-Philippines to continue monitoring activities, and to let the world know of the whale sharks of Donsol and their importance to their ecosystem,” said WWF-Philippines Donsol Project Manager Jun E. Narvadez.

The conservation organization also reported 50 returning whale sharks – making a total of 69 unique whale sharks spotted since the start of the year. WWF-Philippines has documented a total of 733 whale sharks in the region since monitoring began in 2007.

Butanding whale sharks have become the main tourist attractions in Donsol, Sorsogon. Donsol’s Butanding whale sharks were featured in the Philippine Postal Corporation’s (PHLPost) commemorative stamp to mark 125 years of the founding of Sorsogon province.

The Philippines was also recognized for its substantial contribution efforts to conserve and protect migratory species, particularly the whale shark.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the people of Sorsogon for the new sightings of whale sharks in Donsol.

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Margo Hannah De Guzman Quadra
Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.