(Read the title with ecstatic joy.)
Whale sharks do come to stay in the Gulf of Davao: I’d seen several videos of sightings from as early as 2009 (c/o Carabao Dive Center and Maxima Beach Resort). And today — at long last! — I got to see one for myself.
It was a juvenile, because he was only about 5 or 6 meters long. Still, he was enormous!
We had just finished our lunch and were about to heave off from Limao Reef for the next dive site, when the boat captain of Datu Budas, “Intoy” dela Serna, suddenly came rushing from the back pointing to the water. The whale shark was swimming alongside the boat!
Gearing up in a flash, heart beating wildly, I jumped in and faced the largest fish in the world. A shark, no doubt, but one of the most gentle giants underwater. When I was fumbling with the camera, he was regarding me from just a few meters away. I wanted to shout for pure joy, but he took my breath away.
It was ecstasy watching the shark circle underneath our boat, maneuvering gracefully, and seemingly mindful of where my companions and I were. He seemed curious of us, as juvenile animals are wont to be, and allowed us to swim with him for a few blissful minutes.
Moments like this remind me of just how small we are in the global scheme of things, yet how heavy our responsibility is as stewards of the earth.