30 May – 2 June 2009
We have not been back to Donsol in six years, and the many tight, long hugs we received were enough proof that we had left good friends there. It was truly a heart-warming “Welcome Back Home.”
But Donsol has changed. It has bloomed. We were generously welcomed to a brand new hotel in town called Giddy’s Place
and it boasted of having the town’s very first restaurant and bar,
not to mention WiFi and credit card facilities! The tourism office, too, and the surrounding resorts simply astounded us. In six years, they sprouted like mung beans, and we didn’t recognize the place anymore. But it was good to know our beloved Woodland Resort was still alive and well, run by the same people who called us their own.
It was raining when we got there. Our two weeks of “office” work Manila had blue skies and sunshine. We felt the climate changed to make sure we got rained on every time we needed sunshine, and have sunshine every time we didn’t need it! This felt like a personal affront to Yogi, or so he thought, but we had to make the best of it.
Why are whale sharks in Donsol seemingly growing in numbers year after year? WWF Philippines researchers take pictures of the left pectoral fin of each whale shark, and Photo ID is recorded and submitted to ECOCEAN or www.whaleshark.org. The following three-year summary of whale sharks in Donsol was recorded.
- 2007 – 70+ individuals with 13 re-sights and one staying 65 days
- 2008 – 110+ individuals with 50 re-sights and one staying 120 days
- 2009 – 160+ individuals with almost 100 re-sights and one staying 138 days
If we follow their food, we may learn more about whale sharks and why they like to keep coming back to Donsol. We were really happy to find out about WWF Philippines efforts to collect and study microscopic plankton within Donsol Bay. The biggest fish in the world eats the tiniest living organism in the ocean. Fascinating!
WWF Research Coordinator Elson Aca leads a group of local stakeholders in finding out more about whale sharks in Donsol. His volunteers Jaymar Galag, a cum laude biology graduate from Partido State University in Goa, Camarines Sur, and Jose Buella Jr., a fisheries graduate from Bicol University, Tabaco, Albay help out in the photo ID and in finding out what is in the whale sharks’s menu all around the bay. Sometimes a BIO will come and help out in the photo identification.
So what whale shark food does the bay contain? Here’s what our WWF boys found out:
Donsol Bay has three (3) major groups of Zooplanktons:
Donsol Bay has four (4) major groups of Phytoplanktons:
It was the first day of school, and the Grade 1 students of Donsol East Central School were treated to a “Welcome Back to School” by Tandy, WWF Philippines adorable Butanding whale shark mascot.