PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – A huge crocodile was spotted on Thursday in Barangay Poblacion 6, Balabac town, and its photo has gone viral on Facebook.
Palawena Charilaine Marcolino, 19, uploaded the photo with the caption “nagpapainit dahil nalamigan sa dagat dahil walang tigil ang ulan sa Balabac (basking in the sun because the waters could be cold due to the unending rains in Balabac)”.
Crocodylus Porosus Philippines Inc. Program Director and marine biologist Rainier Manalo said residents should expect the frequent appearance of the crocodiles in the waters off the coastal town between months of August and December.
Crocodiles usually get emerge from their hatching sites during these months after they have hatched their eggs, and find areas where they can back under direct sunlight.
“Wala na silang babantayan kaya lumalabas na sila [sa hatching sites nila]. Minsan kasi naghahanap sila ng pwede nilang matambayan para ma expose sila sa araw, lumalabas na sila dahil ang mga itlog ay pisa na (They are no longer guarding eggs that’s why they have emerged from these sites. Sometimes, they look for other areas where they could stay to get some sunlight. They can already go out because their eggs are hatched) ,” he said.
“Lalabas na sila, by January panahon na naman ng breeding kaya minsan madalang silang makakita ng buwaya (They go out, then by January, they go back to breeding. That’s why it’s rare to see these crocodiles),” Manalo said.
Manalo said the Balabac Island Group has the highest number of crocodiles in the country compared to the southern mainland Palawan based on its 2018 survey in the southern part of the province.
“[Barangays of] Bugsuk, Ramos, and Balabac Islands are the areas with the highest number of crocodiles. More than half or 54 percent of this wild population is present in the Island of Bugsuk,” he said.
He said that from 2016 to 2019, CPPI surveyed 19 rivers in the southern Palawan, and obtained a corrected average density of 0.95 non-hatchlings/km.
“We recorded an estimated wild crocodile population of 519 non-hatchlings in 2019. Non-hatchlings kasi ibig sabihin ay pwede na sila lumaban sa ibang predator or hindi na sila prone sa environmental stress. Ang scientific count kasi sa kanila ay one year na sila [mula noong pinanganak] pero pwede naman bilangin ang iba kasi pwede pa rin naman sila mamatay,” Manalo said.
He said that only the Indo-pacific crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) specie is present in the islands of Palawan.
“We prefer the English name Indo–Pacific crocodile to better differentiate its geographic distribution, instead of the commonly known habitat of the species which is…