Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bright lights in the darkness

Donsol is primarily known for whale sharks, but it’s not the only reason to visit. Evening and darkness bring a different kind of water experience, as thousands of fireflies illuminate the river. Living in the mangrove trees surrounding the water, they come out to mate at night, glowing in and around their homes like strings of fairy lights.

We boarded a boat just as darkness cloaked the banks, and scooted away from any artificial lights to better see the glow. It had just stopped raining, so initially the flies stuck to the trees, making them seem to pulsate with eerie light. As the time went on though, they began leaving the shelter of the leaves and hovered around us, flying around our boat and landing everywhere. At one point I had one land in my hand, a male according to our guide, and was able to examine it in closer detail and see the source of its bright light shining underneath.

(Nope, those little streaks are not a dirty camera lens, but fireflies...)

We drifted along the banks looking for new groups of lovely light, and were amazed to see the whole area glow. As we were the only passengers on our boat, the whole experience was peaceful and relaxed, and very much enjoyable. Our guide explained the life cycle of fireflies, their habitats and the chemicals that caused their light, and watching the tiny pinpricks of movement against the otherwise black background was magical.

No-where near as crowded as the whale shark experience (we saw just two other boats, and only as we were heading back), firefly watching was a great way to spend an hour and I would very much recommend it.

Our final day in Donsol was a relaxing one. We wandered around the small town and down to the beach, which unfortunately was filthy and strewn with litter, so we didn’t stay long. After the early start of the previous morning, it was lovely to have some time without much to do, before leaving and heading to our next destination, the island of Bohol.

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