Our dolphin watching trip on Bohol Sea started very early in the morning, so we were up before the sun was up. When we arrived at Baclayon Pier, the sun was just peeking on the horizon. Feeling the fresh air on your skin and smelling the sweet smell of the sea, combined with witnessing the sun rise above the sky, make you look forward to the day’s adventure.
From Baclayon Pier, we rode the bangka that would take us to the playground of dolphins and whales. It was unfortunate that we came to Bohol at the wrong time of the year because there were no whales to see.
The boat crew were all seasoned spotters as they formerly made their living hunting for whales and dolphins in the area. When whale- and dolphin-hunting was banned, the Pamilacan Island Boat Operators and Spotters Association came up with an alternative source of living to whale and dolphin hunters.
Very early morning is the ideal time to go dolphin watching because the sea is usually calm at that time of day and because the tour also includes a stay at Pamilacan Island. According to our guide, pods of dolphins can be spotted when they are on the hunt for food.
There are many species of dolphins that can be seen frolicking in the waters of Bohol Sea. Frequently seen are spinner dolphins, Risso’s, bottlenose dolphins and Fraser dolphins. The species of whales that migrate to the Bohol Sea are the pygmy killer whales, the short-finned pilot whales, the melon-headed whales, Bryde’s whales and sperm whales.
You can spend three hours watching the dolphins and their high-spirited antics without getting bored. But it is a challenge snapping pictures because they are right in front of you one moment and gone the next.
After the dolphins were done playing and we can no longer see them, the boat headed towards Pamilacan Island, the home of the skilled spotters who take visitors dolphin watching. This place is another adventure waiting to happen to visitors of Bohol. Lunch was prepared and provided by the families of our boat crew. While waiting for lunch (sigh, what a life), we spent time swimming, snorkeling, and exploring every nook and crany of the island.
Pamilacan offers visitors a taste of the simple life. Since the island is small, the only way to get water supply is by catching rain in a huge concrete receptacle. Potable water is transported by boat from the mainland, and electricity is supplied by a generator. Visitors can stay overnight at the island’s cottages if they wish to spend a quiet night away from the noisy city and everyday conveniences.
Pamilacan Island is situated at the heart of Bohol Sea. The word “Pamilacan” is derived from the word “pamilac,” which means harpoon in English. Pamilacan Island is a fishing community, which for generations, lived by hunting whales that pass through Bohol Sea. Now, the area surrounding Pamilacan Island is a marine sanctuary and the families living there are the guardians of the mammals and other sea creatures that call Bohol Sea home.