The Gentle Whale Sharks of Donsol

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Who’s afraid of Sharks? Almost all of us are afraid of sharks. They are known to attack and kill, and eat humans too. But there is one kind of shark that is friendly to humans and it can be seen in Donsol, Philippines.

According to studies made on different species of sharks, there are about 10 deadly sharks in our ocean floor. They are: Bull Shark, Great White Shark, Tiger Shark, Ocean White Tips, Short Fin Mako, Grey Reef, Sand Tiger, Hammerhead, Blue Shark and Lemon Shark. It is very surprising that Whale Sharks are not included in the list of deadly sharks notwithstanding its size.

The Donsol Whale Sharks are popularly known in town as “butanding”. It is a multi-dotted Whale Shark that measure anywhere from 15 to about 40 feet in length.


The “Butandings” as they are known here are gentle giants of the sea. They come to the waters of Donsol from the months of October up to early May every year. They are a friendly and sociable creature that playfully interacts with humans who visit their chosen habitat in this coastal area of Donsol, Sorsogon…

First time visitors of Donsol are advised to follow certain guidelines when they go onshore to witness and interact with “Butanding” and they are:

  1. Do not touch or ride the Whale Shark
  2. Do not restrict the movement of the Whale Shark or impede its natural path
  3. Maintain a distance of 3 meters from its head and 4 meters from its tail
  4. Do not use flash photography
  5. Do not use scuba gears, scooters, jet skis or any underwater propulsion machines
  6. A maximum of 6 swimmers per shark is allowed and 1 boat per Whale Shark

Swimming with the Donsol Whale Sharks is an experience of a lifetime. Swimming and interacting with this gentle and friendly creature can only happen in Donsol, Sorsogon in the Philippines. Tourists from all over the world dubbed Donsol as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World” because of the enormous number of tourists that visit the place every year.

Donsol, Sorsogon

Donsol has been transformed into a popular tourism destination, primarily because of the presence of the giant Whale Sharks that makes the coastal areas of the town as their resting place for about 6 months every year.


Donsol is located in Sorsogon , Southern Luzon in the Philippines. It takes less than an hour travel time by plane from Manila to Legaspi Airport and another 45 minutes by car to Sorsogon.


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