“I’ve been busy!” and other excuses

So it’s officially been a week since I last updated and WOW, what a week it’s been. One reason I haven’t updated this blog much is because I was busy updating some other blog/website – another website I’m truly proud to have worked on and brought to life. Wheeee 😀 I won’t link to it just yet since I’m still building the site  (and will continue building it for at least another month) but trust me, it’s going to be awesome 🙂

The second reason is more work. Whoo. Played tour guide to visitors from the research arm of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) who wanted to check out our environmental practices. They visited because we received the ASEAN Green Hotel award for the past few years so they wanted to see the facilities and projects that earned us those awards. They didn’t come to find fault in our operations but to learn about them – something that doesn’t happen very often with government agencies.

We’re currently hosting another visitor – a field botanist who’s surveying the different islands here in El Nido. We asked Sir Uly to come down again (this is his second visit) and identify and share some interesting stories about the plants in Miniloc, Lagen, Dibuluan, Snake Island, and Pangulasian. The more information we have about the plants, the better we can tell our guests about them. And lo and behold! We have awesome stuff to share 😀

An El Nido endemic!

The photo above is of a Hoya vine that’s endemic to El Nido. Vines of the genus Hoya are known for their thick, waxy leaves that grow opposite each other along the vine. This particular species (I forget the species name. Ack.) grows in limestone – Sir Uly found this growing along the walls of the Big Lagoon. I’ll update the scientific name tomorrow after I ask Sir Uly to spell it for me.

He also went back to a plant he found during his last visit in 2008. He took some samples then and he discovered that it could be a new species. It looked similar to a plant he saw in Peninsular Malaysia but with enough differences that he thought it might be a new species. He sent his samples to Edinburgh to compare with the type specimen from Malaysia and is waiting for word. In the meantime, he took additional samples for DNA analysis. We struggled to get a dried-up sample from the Small Lagoon (we were just in the kayak) when there were over 100 individuals (including some with fresh leaves and flowers!) within reach from the speedboat in the Big Lagoon! Fieldwork’s funny that way.

Growing on the side of the limestone cliffs

What I find cool about this plant (aside from it being potentially a new species :P) is that its seeds are ballistically dispersed. The fruits are spiral-shaped and burst open when ripe, releasing the seeds into the air. The stuff you find out when assisting a kickass field botanist 😀

The spiral-shaped fruit after exploding open

Sir Uly also found another potential new species in the Lagoons but I forgot to take a photo of it. Here’s hoping it is! 😀