I had my mouth open when I saw this video on CNN. I was like, WOW. Seriously? That guy swimming alongside the whale shark was just inches away from it. I am happy to note also that this activity is an ecotourism attraction in Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines.
Before, this gigantic sea animal, Butanding in local dialect, was once hunted by locals for a living. The whale sharks visit Donsol around December to May to feed on the planktons near the area so it be best to go there on those months. When their population alarmingly dwindled, it prompted government officials and WWF worked hand in hand to protect them from hunters and officially prohibited its hunting. Locals who lost their livelihood were eventually hired by the government to preserve and watch the whale sharks. Later, it became a tourist attraction drawing tourists around the world to have a piece of this rare adventure. Ecotourism prospered and helped locals earn triple compared with hunting them.
This is definitely one of the trips I had to do sometime soon. More so when I found out the costin everything is really cheap. This blogger made an accounting of all the expenses she shelled out. The figures are in Philippine pesos, you do the math.
If the whale sharks aren't enough for you, they have a firefly tour, diving at the famous Manta Bowl at Ticao Island, visit nearby islands (Matnog), Lake Bulusan or go to Albay (a lot of tourist spots there). For diving aficionados, I found great packages here you can take advantage of.
Good luck on your trip! While I stay here soon be buried on piles of school work dreaming of trips until vacation comes.