Low tide in Bisucay


Makati <ma-ka-tee> is the financial capital of the Philippines.

Makati <ma-ka-ti> means being itchy.

Makati <ma-ka-ti> is also the term for low tide.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" Marker

This signpost stands 400 meters from the beach. Taken at low tide.

The signpost shown above–exposed during makati–is used to guide the locals away from the bahura <ba-hu-ra>, underground rock formations, during madalem <ma-da-lum>, or high tide.

Such signposts are important especially when rocks have been deliberately planted to create fish traps.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" Rocks

These rocks were planted in order to form fish traps.

Any fish caught inside these rock formations were trapped during makati. They were vulnerable to capture until the next madalem.


I had never stumbled upon a live cowrie until my host picked up this beauty.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" Cowrie Cowry

A live cowrie snail


Many inhabitants of the intertidal zone are echinoderms. Last month I had reviewed a similar intertidal zone in Bancao-Bancao. This time, in Bisucay island, I encountered new creatures–animals that I had never seen before.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" Starfish

Starfish. The first time I've seen this kind.

Incidentally, two of this guy’s arms are regenerating (the shorter ones).

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Horned Starfish"

Horned Starfish. Fairly common.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Horned Starfish"

Horned Starfish. Another common species.

"Retired No Way" Bisucay Balading Cuyo "Low Tide" Starfish "Sand Dollar"

Starfish. This type is fairly common. Note the sand dollar.

Sand Dollars

Sand dollars are a type of Sea Urchin. The typical sea urchin resembles this.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" Palawan "Retired No Way" Tayong "Sea Urchin"

This bad boy was about 15 centimeters (6 inches) across!

There were large colonies of the nasty type shown above. Back in 2005, in Coron, I learned that this type–locally called tayong <ta-yong>–was harvested for food. My hosts in Bisucay island were not impressed. Anyone that had to harvest something that was so difficult to harvest and that yielded so little that was edible was truly desperate. They steered me to the alternative–a sand dollar locally called tirik <ti-rik>.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar" Tirik

Tirik. Cuyonons prize the innards of this type of sand dollar.

I tasted several. It tasted like it looked: salty and slimy. It’s definitely an acquired taste. Also, I was cautioned about its high cholesterol. That makes sense. The internal organs of most animals are high in cholesterol.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar" Tirik

The edible part of the tirik.

I had never seen so many types of sand dollars in one beach as I did here.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar"

Sand Dollar. My first time to see this type.

None of these were edible according to my hosts.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar"

Sand Dollar. Another exquisite specimen.

These are the beautiful skeletons of this animal.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar"

Sand Dollars. These are skeletons of the echinoderm that created it.

These skeletons are very fragile. When dropped, half the time they will drift to the ground. By the same token, the slightest pressure will shatter them.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sand Dollar"

Sand Dollar. Another first for me.

The tirik was just the appetizer.

Sea Cucumbers

It was time to eat our “vegetable,” a cucumber–a sea cucumber to be exact. The edible kind is called a batunan <ba-tu-nan>. The inedible ones are simply called balat <ba-lat>.

I had previously written about commercially-harvested sea cucumbers.

My host started scraping the skin of this long batunan.

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" Palawan "Retired No Way" Batunan "Sea Cucumber"

Batunan. The skin is scraped off. Then the flesh is cut up into bite-size pieces.

After scraping off the skin, the animal is cut up. The pieces tasted very salty but did not have much “give” (unlike octopus which has a rubbery texture).

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Sea Cucumber" Cowrie Cowry

Our haul of batunan. Nice cowrie snail, isn't it?

Basket Star

Another first for me was seeing these beautiful specimen:

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Basket Star" Echinoderm

A gorgeous example of a Basket Star

"Bisucay Island" "Balading" "Low Tide" "Retired No Way" "Basket Star" Echinoderm

The top of the same Basket Star

The mouths of brittle stars and basket stars are located on their underside. They have no anus, so wastes are also expelled through the mouth.


To be continued

I’ll continue this next time. Our banca is in danger of running aground. The tide is dropping (makati) and I’m still here at the Internet Cafe! Later…


2 responses to “Low tide in Bisucay

  1. Nice i wanna go there soon


  2. Nice post..

    I miss PALAWAN.
    I miss the beach and the fresh seafood… The tuba ang kinilaw. Awesome.

    Hmmm.. perfectly paradise.


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