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The Butanding Interaction Officers, popularly known as the BIO, are the frontliners of Donsol’s whale shark tourism, acting as both tour guides and life guards. They ensure order and safety, making the interactions enjoyable for everyone, even for those who lack swimming skills. As long as the whale sharks regularly visit the waters of Donsol, the BIO will continue to work to provide services for tourism and to help in the protection of the environment.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, and its effects have been felt by the entire Philippines, including Donsol. What was once considered as thriving months for tourism have now been turned into periods of quarantine, which has affected not only the whale shark tourism operations but the entire economy of the Donsol community.
Currently, there are around 40-50 BIOs in Donsol, and their livelihoods have been severely affected by this pandemic. Because of the lack of tourism income, they have been struggling to feed their families and to provide for their daily basic needs. Our goal is to help not just the families of our BIOs, but also a total of 200 families in Donsol by providing them with food assistance. And for our BIOs, in order for them to rise above this crisis once the whale shark tourism operations resume, we would be assisting them in the form of new equipment: swimming masks, snorkels, fins, and rashguards. With your help, we can provide these materials needed by our BIO so they can recover and rebuild their livelihoods after the crisis and continue providing quality service to support the economy of the Donsol community.
Let’s protect the protectors of our whale sharks. Together, let’s support our BIOs, and the community of Donsol, as they continue to #ChangeTheEnding for our endangered butandings and their natural habitat!