(pic1: my closest 'whaleshark' encounter - playing w/ the mascot in WWF Donsol office).
Once again, we visited Butandings in Donsol, and luckily had very fulfilling encounters with our giant friends (4 encounters for me, 7-8m in size). Other than checking our the result of our photo ID activity last year - we learned that our boat community have started deploying 'propeller guard' - installed underneath their boats. This should protect both the shark and the boat for some nasty blade-vs-butanding encounter. Although blades will not immediately kill the whaleshark (when hit by it), the consequential wound can cause infection and eventual death; Or at least harm the fish and shoo them away out of Donsol. Not very good for eco-tourism.
On another aspect - WWF has started studying the planktons (the main staple for Butandings), as they continue to build knowledge on how to better protect these magnificent creatures of Donsol.
(pic2: Romi inspecting a freshly-caught Devil Ray - Manta group. This is illegal and surprisingly - Pamillacan community in Bohol continue to harvest/poach this species.)
Visiting Donsol gave me mixed feelings - given the irony of the so-called 'awareness' of the local community. Whalesharks are protected by law, and it was good that Donsol is very active in the conservation effort. But just last year, hundreds of dogsharks and tresher sharks were being lifted out of the sea for liver and sharks' fin trade.
Protection of sharks should not just include the big ones - but all species that are obviously already threatened.