A Case Study on the Whale Sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines

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A Study on the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) Tourism of Donsol, Sorsogon circa 1998 - 2010

Marie Anne L. Mijares
2010 – 36545

Professor Joey Ogatis
Communications I
Research Paper
October 7, 2010

Thesis Statement: The whale shark tourism industry of Donsol, Sorsogon has greatly changed its economic state and its reputation, but the whale shark tourism poses also problems on the fishing industries which is Donsol’s main source of livelihood. I. Donsol, which is located in Sorsogon province, is the home of whale shark tourism and has changed greatly due to their presence. a. Donsol is a municipality in Sorsogon City.

b. In 1998, the arrival of whale sharks, Donsol has changed from a quiet fishery village to one of the most renowned tourism industries in the world. II. Whale sharks tourism posed a huge change on the economy, culture and reputation of Donsol Sorsogon. a. Due to the increase in the number of tourists, Donsol Sorsogon received titles such as “The Best Animal Encounter in Asia” and this title led to an increase in the number of tourists during the year 2005. b. Whale shark tourism helps the overall revenue of the municipality and aids the small-scale fishermen with their daily income. c. The presence of whale shark brought upon the Butanding Festival in Donsol Sorsogon. III. The ecosystem in Donsol Sorsogon is threatened by the overfishing and in turn the whole whale shark tourism is in danger of deteriorating. d. Commercial fishing vessels are getting all the income of the smaller-scale fishing folk which in turn make them venture in to capturing smaller fish. e. The effect of over-fishing to the normal trends in the ecosystem and how the local government solved this problem.

Facts and Figures of Sorsogon City and Donsol’s History of Whale Shark Tourism

Sorsogon City, the capital of Sorsogon province, is one of the six Bicol provinces, and is situated in the southernmost tip of Luzon. The city was formed by merging Bacon and Sorsogon towns. It consists of 64 barangays, covering 31,292 hectares of land 37 of which lie along the sea’s coast. It is Bicol’s largest city in terms of land area.

Sorsogon City has no distinct dry season. There is generally rain throughout the entire year; rain is expected 200 days in a year. However, some months will have fewer rains than others. The tropical climate of Sorsogon is largely influenced by two air-stream systems, the northeast monsoon, which prevails from October to May and the southeast monsoon, and occurs from June to September. There is a pronounced high rainfall period from November to January. November is the wettest month, while April and May are the least rainy months. Considered the summer months are the months of March, April and May (sorsogontourism.com). The city is particularly at high risk to tropical cyclones and storm surges, extreme rainfall or flooding, increased precipitation, temperature variability and sea level rise.

The origin of its name is the word “Solsogon” or “Susugon” or “to trace the river upstream”, it has been spelled in various ways throughout history. The Spanish explorers got lost upon the discovery of the territory until they reached what is now called Sorsogon Bay. They asked the locals the name of the place and the locals mistook the question as asking for directions. Thus they were told “Solsogon” or “Susugon”, which meant trace your way following the river upstream, which eventually became the name of the town. The city was overrun by Japanese Imperial Forces in 1942 but was liberated in 1945. Sorsogon officially became a city under the Philippine Republic on August 16, 2000 (sorsogontourism).

The population of Sorsogon city based on the 2007 census is 151,454 and has an average growth rate of 1.78%. It is one of the most populous cities in the Bicol region. 95% of its citizens are Roman Catholics. It has 72 elementary schools consisting of public and...
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