Whale sharks shy away from dirty seawater, noise

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LEGAZPI CITY: The visitors that swam in the waters off this city may have stayed longer but the noise and dirty seawater could have turned them off, consequently drove them away to less hostile parts—they are nine gentle giants, whale sharks known as butanding.

Tourism officials believed the whale sharks swam from Donsol in Sorsogon province and merely wandered in the waters off Legazpi.

Donsol is the known sanctuary of whale sharks in Bicol for the past many years but there were many instances when they would disappear for months only to return.

The nine butanding showed up near the Legazpi shoreline on February 10, and had drawn foreign and local tourists. It was the third showing of butanding here since 2010, staying only briefly.


The World Wildlife Fund and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) had named three of the gentle giants in a Bicol dialect as magaro (sociable), durat (flirt), and mailyas (unfriendly).

Former city councilor Carlos Ante of the Bantay Dagat cited a BFAR report that noted the four-kilometer stretch of Legazpi coastal waters from Barangays Pigcale, Lamba to the boulevard at Barangay Puro are tainted by trash and human waste.

Puro Boulevard shoots out from the biggest Bicol waterfront commercial complex Embarcadero De Legazpi Mall, one of Legazpi’s major tourist attractions.

Early this week, only three  remained of the nine visiting butanding.

A source said the butanding would certainly leave the place because of the excessive interaction from residents—some went to the extent of riding them.

Some residents, however, assailed the Office of the Civil Defense for its regular drill exercise in the Puro coastal area as venue—they reasoned bu–tanding were disturbed by the military drills.

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