Wildlife in Batanes
As a nature and animal lover, Batanes is a great place to explore and find interesting flora and fauna. While a bit limited in animal life compared to an island like Palawan, there are quite a few interesting endemic (native) species in Batanes. I’ve included a few of my favorite Batanes wildlife that I’ve seen in person, but there are many more to discover and appreciate. Some of the best places to see wildlife is in tidal pools and close to Mount Iraya or Mount Matarem. Always be cautious in these places not to disturb the animals too much as Batanes is a very delicate eco-system. Never touch animals as there are many that can be harmed, or worse harm you with venom, toxins or bites. Now onto my list of favorites!
These can often be seen in tidal pools or shallow water next to ports and of course when diving. These are quite shy and docile eels that rarely leave the safety of holes or rocks. They have a striking contrast of black, grey, white with various shades based on age and gender.
Zebra Moray Eel
One of the most beautiful animals I’ve witnessed in Batanes, this eel is covered in black and white stripes, like a Zebra! Normally they are out in deeper water and reefs, but you can catch a glimpse of them in tidal pools or shallow water.
Black Ribbon Eel
These are interesting eels because they can be solid black, yellow, or blue. This is based on the gender and age. Young males are solid black with blue mouths and spines. Adult male Ribbon Eels are bright blue with a yellow mouth and spine. All Ribbon Eels are born male and are protandric, meaning they change into a female to reproduce. Once the male is of a certain age, it turns into a female to reproduce. Shortly after reproduction, the female dies, thus it’s rare to see a female Ribbon eel. While the Ribbon Eel is female, it takes on a yellow color, looking almost like a different species. The three colors of the Ribbon Eel are the same species, just at different life phases.
Brittle Starfish (class Ophiuroidea)
While not the classic, “star shaped” starfish, these little echinoderms are very beautiful in their own way. They have very long legs and a tiny body. These are very common all over Batanes, especially in tidal pools or on the ocean floor. Often, they will hide in a hole with only their legs sticking up making them look more like snakes or worms, this has earned them the name “Serpent Stars”.
Hermit Crab (Umang)
These cute little crustaceans are everywhere in Batanes, but there is no better place to see them than White Beach. Like snowflakes, every hermit crab shell is totally different. I’ve spent hours looking at them and I’ve never seen one that was similar. They are harmless to beach goers, just be careful not to step on them.
Common House Gecko
Possibly the most prevalent creature in Batanes (or Philippines), these geckos are named “common” for a reason. Usually seen at night, they will be attached to walls, ceilings and trees. While tourists from other parts of the world may not be used to lizards in their rooms, these helpful geckos keep many other pests away. Each gecko can eat hundreds of spiders, moths, mosquitoes and roaches per night. Maybe they aren’t so bad to have in your hotel room!?
Philippine Bent-toed Gecko
Similar to the Common House Gecko, the Bent-toed Gecko is a bit rarer to see in Batanes. I’ve witnessed them only twice and it was during a dinner at a café. They have the same wonderful pest ridding advantages of other geckos, but their coloration is a bit more interesting with stripes and camouflage pattern.