The island of Palawan, and El Nido in particular, is home to exceptional biodiversity. The protected area is located in the Philippines Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the thirty-five most important areas for conservation on the planet, due to its high number of endemic species and its high vulnerability to habitat destruction.
So, what’s in the protected area? On land, scientists have recorded 279 species of birds, 58 species of terrestrial mammals, 8 species of amphibians, and 69 species of reptile. These include 16 endemic bird species and 6 endemic mammal species found only on Palawan. In the ocean, scientists have recorded 45 genera of hard corals and 197 species of fish. El Nido’s seas are also home to five of the seven species of sea turtles, the loggerhead, green, hawksbill, leatherback, and olive ridley. And very lucky visitors can spot two globally endangered marine mammal species, the elegant dugong and the diminutive Irrawaddy dolphin. Scroll down to read more about the protected area’s most iconic animals, and to see pictures of them in action.