A week or two ago, the news of butanding (whale shark) sightings near the shores of Albay or Sorsogon raised hopes that our marine life was improving. This happened during the height of all the Guimaras mess. As many as 9 butandings were seen surfacing regularly, and the local government made sure the fishermen didn't scare them, stress them out or fish them.
Today, I read on the WWF website that manta rays were seen in Mabini, Batangas, a 20 year gap since the last sighting in the area. How wonderful! Of the big fish, butandings and mantas are two of my favorite. I had my first eye to eye experiences with both 2 years ago in Tubbataha and will never forget seeing the first whale shark swim by, no more than an arm length away, close enough to see the eye swivel to take a gander at us, agape at their size and grandeur. The mammoth manta we saw soon after was just as amazing, but further down the trench, and later in the trip, had the pleasure of a feeding manta near our boat.
News of their return, albeit too early to tell if it is a sign of good things to come, is heartwarming. Makes me happy to be a certified diver.