Search This Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Swimming with Whale Shark "Butanding" in Donsol, Sorsogon

Whale shark (Rhincodon typus), locally known in Philippines as "Butanding"is considered as the largest fish in the world measuring from 18 to 35 feet and weighing about 20 tons. Butanding is a tourist attraction in Donsol, Sorsogon. It is classified as vulnerable by IUCN( ( The Philippine government has declared Butanding as endangered species , thereby protecting this species from any exploitation. Also, The Department of Tourism is promoting an eco-tourism to protect the whale sharks. Tourist are allowed to interact with the whale shark in swimming within 4 meters with tour guides. This whale shark migrates to the waters of Donsol, Sorsogon from November to May. Butanding is typically inhabits in tropical seas near the equator.

Butanding is not dangerous to human even their size is too big. They are classified as filter feeder that eats small organisms such as macro-algae and plankton. They swallow a moutful of water and expels the water through its five pairs of gills, trapping anything from 2 to 3 mm in diameter in its mouth. They are easily recognized by a gray checkerboard-like skin on the back with pale yellow dots and stripes, white belly and broad flat head. Butanding swims at an average of 5kph, thereby, humans can swim together with them. 

Butanding was discovered as ovoviviparous after the catchment of a female in 1996, this means that the female produces live offspring from eggs hatched in uterus. In 2009, marine scientists in Philippines discovered that the whale shark is not just feeding in Philippine waters but also giving birth after the discovery of small whale shark about 38cm in length in the beach in Pilar, Philippines.

Before the documentation of Butanding in 1998, an estimated of 100 were killed in area of  Donsol by fisherman to supply the high demand of meat and by-products in Asia  specially in Taiwan.

Internationally,  Butanding  is popular in the name of whale shark. In French they are known as Requin-baleine, Tiburon ballena in Spain, Tofu shark in China, Ebisuzame in Japan, Kitovye akul in Russia, Ca Ong in Vietnam, Pez Dama or Domino in Mexico and Latin America, Papa shillingi in Kenya, Marokintana in Madagascar,and Kikaki in Madurese.
The whale shark is the largest living fish (hu...Image via Wikipedia
Comparison of human with fully grown whale shark

Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is...Image via Wikipedia
Whale shark at Georgia Aquarium
whale sharkImage via Wikipedia
Big mouth and  broad flat head of whale shark
Whale shark at Osaka AquariumImage via Wikipedia
Whale Shark at Osaka Aquarium in Japan
Butanding at close look
Butanding in Sorsogon
Interaction with whale shark
Interaction with Butanding
Swimming with whaleshark
Swimming with Butanding
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment