Mar 5

What in the world is a tarsier? Have you ever seen a southern giant clam? Do you ever wonder what fascinating creatures inhabit the 7,107 beautiful islands of the Philippines? Why not join ARKive on a virtual tour of this tropical paradise and discover some of the incredible species found there.

Colossal crustacean

Coconut crab photo

A coconut crab on a palm trunk

Described by Charles Darwin as “monstrous”, the coconut crab is one of the largest arthropods in the world, and can span a meter from leg tip to leg tip. The coconut crab gets its name from its amazing ability to crack open coconuts and eat the flesh, and it is so strong that it can carry objects weighing up to 28 kilograms in its claws!

Beautiful bivalve

Southern giant clam photo

Southern giant clam

The impressive southern giant clam is one of the largest of the giant clams, growing up to 60cm in length. It is characterized by its relatively smooth shell and radiant mantle, which can have various colors and patterns. Sadly the southern giant clam is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as it has been hunted extensively, both for food and the aquarium trade.

Hard-to-find hawksbill

Hawksbill turtle photo

Hawksbill turtle swimming over reef

If you are lucky enough to go diving in the Philippines, you might be fortunate enough to spot a hawksbill turtle. Named for its strongly hooked beak, this ocean beauty takes decades to mature, first breeding at 20 to 40 years of age. Sadly, having been exploited for thousands of years for its shell, it is now considered Critically Endangered.

Teeny tiny tarsier

Philippine tarsier photo

Close up of a Philippine tarsier

Heading into the forest, you might be surprised to see what is hanging out in the trees. Known for its enormous eyes, the Philippine tarsier belongs to a genus that have the biggest eyes relative to body weight of any mammal. Standing at only 5cm tall, this diminutive primate is a spring-loaded athlete, leaping from branch to branch with ease. It can rotate its head nearly 360°, providing an excellent field of vision, and often grabs bugs in mid-air to feast on!

Eagle eye

Philippine eagle photo

Close-up of a captive Philippine eagle

The Philippine eagle is the world’s largest eagle, with an impressive wingspan of two meters. It’s no wonder it is commonly known as the “monkey-eating” eagle, feeding mainly on flying lemurs, palm civets and monkeys. Found on the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao, the Philippine eagle was once widespread throughout its range, but now the population could number fewer than 250 mature individuals.

Hopefully you have enjoyed our virtual photo safari to the Philippines. Interested in seeing more? Make sure you check out our explore by geography feature, allowing you to search for species in every country, including the Philippines. See you soon for the next ARKive Geographic journey!

Maggie Graham, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

  • Zenaida Ugat (March 6th, 2012 at 12:28 pm):

    Thanks for featuring the Philippine wildlife. We need all the help we can get in raising public awareness on endangered species.