An alternative activity to whale watching in Sorsogon is “Firelfy Watching”. It’s actually more fun than you think, especially if your group can entertain yourselves among the mangroves while the “alitaptap” (fireflies) tap the night away in synchronous light.
But first you have to get yourself there and the only way is really by asking the locals to bring you there. We had our own vehicle so they gave us some instructions and then you just need to verify by asking people along the way. Everyone knows about the firefly watching mangrove since it has become a source of good income for the community.
We were advised, and it was good advice, to go right before the sun sets so you can still see the OGOD RIVER on the way down to where the fireflies gather. Registration is PhP 1,200 per boat and can accommodate 6 people. Another 3 people will join you who will be your crew- two manning the boat and the last one being your guide.
As you meander down the river, it is as pleasant or as horrifying as your mind would like to imagine. Some people like to pretend that danger is lurking everywhere- ala the ANACONDA movies or National Geographic wild encounters. We preferred the more peaceful outlook and absorbed the new surroundings.
LOW TIDE, FULL MOON & DRIZZLES
Good thing for us, the tides were high and the moon was out of sight. This meant a fantastic backdrop of darkness for the fireflies to shine and a smooth ride on the shallow river. Our only problem was that it was drizzling so every once in a while we had to cover up by putting out the tarp which covered our views considerably.
TO LIGHT UP THE TREES
Many of the boats that passed us, we noticed later, couldn’t get any fireflies to light up where they parked. Us, on the other hand, without our trusted guide, got every tree we moved to to light up like a Christmas Tree. The trick, we discovered, was to make a loud sound- the vibrations probably make the insects jittery and light up. Clapping and singing also helped put the little lamps into a good mood.
FACTS ABOUT THE FIREFLY (from wikipedia)
The scientific name is “Lampyridae”. Fireflies belong to the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a “cold light”, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale-red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.
An AMAZING 2,000 species of firefly are found in temperate and tropical environments!!!! Many are in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. These larvae emit light and are often called “glow worms”, in particular, in Eurasia. In the Americas, “glow worm” also refers to the related Phengodidae. In many species, both male and female fireflies have the ability to fly, but in some species, females are flightless.
This is a picture from wikipedia of the type of fireflies we saw at OGOD River, Sorsogon.