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Published: March 16th 2009
Wow! What an amazing thing to experience. Swimming with something the size of a small bus. Being hte not amazing writer that I am, I am not sure if the words that I use can describe it, but I will try.
The trip from Manila to Donsol takes a long time by bus. I left at about 4:30 in the afternoon and got there at about 6 or 7 in the morning (I was too tired to remember). Not sleeping much on the bus, I needed a nap, so that meant swimming with the whale sharks had to wait a day. I heard it was best to swim with them in the early morning, so I wasn't too disappointed.
The next day, at about 6:30, I woke up excited and scared. I am afraid of sharks. It is one of my biggest fears. I don't like the idea of them sneaking up behind you while you are riding a wave. I don't like that they can sense me without seeing me. They are evil, evil creatures. 😊 The good news is, Whale Sharks don't even eat fish, let alone people, so I was a little more confident.
got a good boat with a fun driver and a couple of other tourists. We took the catamaran out and drove around for a good hour or so before spotting a dorsal fin sticking out of the water in the distance. We rushed over to the spot where it was and got in front of the path of the shark. We jumped in over the side of the boat as we were still moving. It stretched my shoulders out when I landed in the water as I was still kind of holding on to the side. Somebody else landed on me. Not a great first go, but I didn't have time to worry about it.
I swam around looking, I was right behind the guide. We couldn't find it, and then, right in front of me a huge black and white mouth appeared out of nowhere. It was easily a meter across and only 3 meters away. Pretty scary to see, so I swam to the side, pulling others with me so the shark could get through. It didn't even seem to notice us. The shark was a medium size one, about 6-7 meters long, but it was big enough for my first one. We swam alongside it awhile, but it was much faster than us and could swim a lot deeper too, so we lost it. It was beautiful with black skin and white spots on top and a completely white stomach.
We got back in the boat with huge smiles on our faces and started the search anew. I spotted the second one about 100 meters away and we rushed over to it. We jumped in again and swam next to it. This one was slightly bigger, but started to dive down right away. I kept swimming with it anyways, diving down myself so I could keep an eye on it. I was so close at one point I could see it's eye looking around. It was kind of freaky. After going down about 5-10 meters, it came back up and surfaced right next to me. I saw the dorsal above the water and the shark below at the same time. The movements were completely smooth and peaceful in the water. It went back down and I was able to swim alone with it for awhile, but then it went too deep again.
Again, we got back in the boat and started our search again. We didn't see anything for a couple of hours, but I did get a good sunburn. Then we ended up "chasing" one around for about 15-20 minutes. It would surface off in the distance, we would rush there only to see it surfacing somewhere else. It was fun and irritating at the same time. Eventually, we caught up with it and were able to jump in with it. It quickly started going under (it must have been really shy). As it did though, while we were all swimming right next to it, it slowly turned over so that it was upside down (belly up) and went down like that. As we got out, you could see an extremely large smile on the guides face. He said he had never seen any whale shark doing that before. I later heard him telling other guides about it too.
Once again, we got back in the boat and searched around. We noticed several other boats congregated together and went over by them. They had crowded a butanding and had way to many swimmer next to them (there is a limit of 7, but there were at least 20 swimmers). So we backed off. Eventually, they lost it and it surfaced nearer to us, so we jumped in by it. The water was perfectly clear at that point, so when it appeared in front of me, it was amazingly bright and a perfect view. It had a good 20 or so remoras sparkling and swimming next to the whale shark. It was really amazing to see up close.
After that, we headed back in and got some food. It was one of the most amazing days of the trip and I was glad to have it right at the tale end of it. I also no longer hate sharks, but I am still afraid of some of them.
We head back to Manila now and next, we go home.
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