CRERDEC researcher collects tissue samples from the leg of the horseshoe crab for DNA analysis.

Did you know that Maranaos of Barangay Isugod Quezon in the municipality of Palawan consume horseshoe crabs and cook them just like how other crabs are prepared?

Barangay Councilor Danilo H. Carmen of Maasin in Quezon, Palawan also mentioned that these crabs are commonly utilized in their neighborhood as toys by children and sometimes as wall decorations.

Mr. Marco C. Saclet, Sitio Chairman from Brgy. Marcilla, Coron, Palawan also shared their personal experience of consuming the eggs of horseshoe crab back in the 1980s.

So what exactly are horseshoe crabs?  Known as “living fossils”, these crabs are alien-like creatures but are one of the friendliest marine animals.

In the Philippines, Palawan is the only place recorded where you can find them. Reports usually revealed that horseshoe crabs’ eggs are eaten by humans and are more commonly utilized or ill-used for their blue blood.

The pharmaceutical industries use their blood that contains Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) –an aqueous extract of blood cells (amoebocytes), a critical component in sterility testing that ensures drug and medical device safety.

Key stakeholders from Coron and Quezon in Palawan province are supportive of identifying and conserving the population of horseshoe crab in their province.

Mr. Ebao of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and Ms. Quintaño, a representative from the Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS) mentioned the absence of data regarding horseshoe crab in their agencies but expressed their willingness to help in the study.

In 2021, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau – Coastal Resources and Ecotourism Research Development and Extension Center (ERDB-CRERDEC) started the research, ‘Relationship of Multiple Habitat Continuity and Horseshoe Crab Population in Honda Bay, Quezon and Coron, Palawan’.

The center initiated two (2) consultative and leveling-off meetings with key stakeholders from Coron and Quezon, Palawan province to discuss the unified plans for the implementation of the said research project.

Its goal is to address study gaps specifically on the distribution and/or abundance of the Asian horseshoe crab and to suggest appropriate policies for the conservation and protection of these “living fossils”.

Representatives from said municipalities attended the community consultation held on March 2, 2022 and April 1, 2022, respectively.

Attendees were comprised of officials and staff from the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices – PENROs and CENROs of Coron and Quezon; Municipal Environment and Natural Resource Office (MENRO); Provincial Fisheries Office (PFO); Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD); Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO); Barangay Local Government Units (BLGUs); People’s Organizations (POs); and Non-Government Unit (NGO).

Fifty (50) representatives from both private and government offices joined the levelling-off meeting held at the One Stop Shop Municipal Hall, Coron Palawan on March 2, 2022. Forester Mae Anne Valones of CENRO Coron greeted the participants in place of Coron Palawan CENR Officer Arnoldo A. Blaza, Jr.

Highlights of the said meeting discussed the lack of knowledge albeit the presence of horseshoe crabs in the Barangays within Coron. The meeting also raised the need for local ordinances from the provincial government concerning the conservation of the species in the municipality.

The consultative meeting held on April 1, 2022, at the Municipal Tourism Building in Quezon, Palawan also talked about concerns on the absence of data regarding horseshoe crab as mentioned by Mr. Ebao of PCSD and Ms. Quintaño of NGO-IDEAS. Engr. Rosita F. Castulo of CENRO Quezon Palawan welcomed participantsduring the meeting on behalf of CENR Officer Leonard B. Caluya.

She expressed interest in identifying and conserving the population of horseshoe crab in their province. MENRO Esperansa B. Caabaydeemed that this project may be the first step in attesting that horseshoe crab is indeed endemic in Palawan, thus, the need of coming up with policies to strengthen the conservation of these species.

Project leader and CRERDEC Center Head Jose Isidro Michael T. Padin discussed with stakeholders the highlights, project goals, activities, and their involvements.

He encouraged more engagements from concerned LGUs in leading their respective localities in cushioning the impacts for the conservation and protection of these “living fossils”.

CRERDEC Science Researcher, Ms. Irish Azucena further assisted in discussing the project and came across suggestions and recommendations from participants.

Overall, participants shared their views, local knowledge, and information regarding the horseshoe crab, locally known as “Barangkas”.

Some potential study sites were also identified during the meeting and will be validated during ground verification.