Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Dolphin watching in Tanon Strait
We are not the only creatures on this planet; it's a fact that we ought to be reminded of every now and then. Only then can we truly marvel at creation. And nowhere does this become more apparent than when we come face to face with the denizens of the sea.
Believe it or not, I had never before gone dolphin watching. It's one of those idiosyncratic human phenomena: we never visit the attractions that are close to where we live.
Now, it just so happened that a couple of weeks ago, someone buzzed me on Yahoo Messenger to ask for advice on places to stay and things to do in and around Dumaguete. She and her friends were coming over for a vacation. I helped them out and got them in touch with the folks at Dumaguete Outdoors, who seemed to be the most competent inland tour operator in the city.
I found out last Sunday that they were pushing through with their plans, starting with whale watching today. So I joined in.
Our starting point was Bais, and we arrived there at around 8:30am. We set off not long afterwards in one of their dolphin-watching boats. It took a while to reach the middle of the Tanon Strait, where dolphins and whales would pass through.
Part of me was afraid we would be disappointed. These dolphins, after all, are not paid performers and they don't have to oblige hopeful tourists. In a little while, though, all those fears were laid to rest as we saw dorsal fins streaking above the waves.
We spent about an hour going round and round the straits. The dolphins were wild, but it didn't seem that they were leery of humans. We saw several pods, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in threes.
I headed to the front of the boat to take pictures. I clicked off several shots, but alas, dolphins are fairly fast and my camera was old and slow. These were about the best I could manage.
These photos, in any case, don't really capture the grace and beauty with which they swim through the water. It's a thing that's best experienced firsthand.
At around 11:00am, we got tired of following the dolphins. Time for lunch! We headed to the Manjuyod sandbar. It's a sandbar that's sitting in the middle of the ocean, formed by the tides and currents. White sand, covering a fairly large area. Quite a sight to see. Apparently, it's a common stop for dolphin watching trips.
The dolphin watching boats are equipped with a grill, and our chef, Dumaguete Outdoors' Ruem Villanueva, prepared a good spread for us.
Lunch was very satisfying. On the menu: grilled lapu-lapu wrapped in banana leaves, native kebabs, vegetable salad, and fruits.
After lunch, we all took a dip in the sandbar waters. I hadn't planned on getting wet, but the water was just too inviting. Look at the pictures, and you'll see why.