Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bojo River

with 40 comments

On our trip to the Philippines we visited the Bojo [pronounced Boho] River Nature Reserve in Aloguinsan on the west side of Cebu. Local residents of what was (and still is) a fishing village have been recruited to guide eco-tours of the Bojo River, and that’s how Eve and I found ourselves on December 17th in a slender outrigger being paddled down the quiet river on a leisurely ride. What botanical purpose the “partially overlapping pancakes” serve in the second picture, I have no idea.

We approached the farthest point on the tour as we neared the place where the Bojo River empties into the Tañon Strait. The rocks on the river banks get steeper there, as the next three pictures confirm.

The “bathtub rings” in the final two photos show how much the river rises and falls with the incoming tide.

Eventually the water got choppy, and it probably wouldn’t have been safe to go farther in such a small boat.
In the distance we could see the island of Negros.

Upcoming posts will bring you more pictures from the Bojo River Nature Reserve.

©2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2020 at 4:44 AM

40 Responses

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  1. The water color is amazing. It almost looks like glacial water, but very obviously it is not.

    Michael Scandling

    January 25, 2020 at 5:52 AM

  2. Those flat appendages are an odd looking bit of root. Nothing in Nature is without some purpose, except ticks and chiggers and mosquitoes which some claim exist to ensure survival of the fittest, so they must have some function. Maybe stability from strong tidal surges.

    Steve Gingold

    January 25, 2020 at 6:06 AM

    • I’ve searched but haven’t been able to turn up any information about those “pancake” formations, or even a single other photograph that shows any. As for the three critters you mentioned, I’d be happy never to encounter them again. I know you hate ticks; over here chiggers have been my greatest nemesis.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2020 at 6:35 AM

      • Yep, hate ’em all. They and humans are the only things I know that do little to improve ecosystems.

        Steve Gingold

        January 25, 2020 at 6:50 AM

      • BTW, WordPress is acting up again. I am not fond of the Reader but wouldn’t have seen this post had I not looked there. I don’t know if it is just me, but the notification system is not being my friend.

        Steve Gingold

        January 25, 2020 at 6:52 AM

        • It is happening to me as well.


          January 25, 2020 at 8:43 AM

          • I’ve been failing to get notifications via e-mail. However, if I click the bell icon in the upper right to bring down the notifications menu, I do see new comments there.

            Steve Schwartzman

            January 25, 2020 at 9:04 AM

            • Same here, but it is hit or miss whether I get people’s blog posts as I once did.


              January 26, 2020 at 9:23 AM

              • I discovered that in my case the problem was not with WP but with my e-mail program, in which a setting had inexplicably gotten switched from on to off. Once I changed that setting, the missed e-mails flowed into my inbox. I’m sorry if you’re still having trouble with WP.

                Steve Schwartzman

                January 26, 2020 at 11:39 AM

                • Oh, that is interesting. I’ll have to check that. Overall I’m really happy with wordpress.


                  January 26, 2020 at 4:00 PM

        • Me too. Not getting notifications, and I just realized WP “un-followed” me from some posts I’ve been following.

          Robert Parker

          January 25, 2020 at 12:23 PM

  3. Adventitious roots also help a plant “breathe” when water levels rise, although I have never seen them form pancakes before. I suspect Steve G is right about stability. Yesterday at Lake Michigan I saw large ice pancakes spread out as far as the eye could see. Which wasn’t far, as we were having a real pea souper.


    January 25, 2020 at 8:46 AM

    • The Natural History of Texas, published in 2018 and which I’m reading now, says that although people have long believed that bald cypress tree “knees” serve as a mechanism to absorb oxygen, there’s not much evidence to confirm that. Let’s hope botanists make headway on that question.

      I’d have liked to see your ice pancakes, and fog would also have attracted me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2020 at 9:09 AM

      • Isn’t that a fine book? I’ve not yet read through the whole thing, but I’m enjoying it.


        January 25, 2020 at 10:07 PM

      • Yes I thought of you. It was really something and my phone camera didn’t capture it all that well.


        January 26, 2020 at 9:22 AM

  4. Very Interesting to read above that the ‘pancakes’ serve as a mechanism to absorb oxygen! I perceive this process as another true mystery of nature.

    Peter Klopp

    January 25, 2020 at 9:15 AM

    • It’s not clear that the purpose of the “pancakes” is to absorb oxygen. I’ve been unable to track down any information about those strange structures. If I do, I’ll update this post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2020 at 11:45 AM

  5. The pancakes and the next shot, have a definite “We’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling, a very alien-looking world. So not IHOP, but OHOP (Otherworldly House of Pancakes) But the turquoise water continues to look very appealing, here in the white/gray zone.

    Robert Parker

    January 25, 2020 at 12:26 PM

    • Definitely not in Kansas anymore, though there are some places along the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan that have pretty water, even if not in your gray season. That OHOP’s a clever coinage.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2020 at 6:51 PM

  6. Beautiful images, and applaud your continuing spirit of adventure.


    January 25, 2020 at 8:49 PM

    • We were glad we chose to visit this reserve. It proved a refuge not only for nature but also from most of the chaos and noise we encountered in so many other places in the Philippines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2020 at 8:57 PM

      • Not exactly on the same level of noise but it was amazing to come home from Cairns and realize how quiet my place is without the constant hum of fans and/or aircon which is the backdrop to life in Cairns. I missed the beautiful bird song of Cairns, though.


        January 25, 2020 at 9:27 PM

  7. There are a lot of interesting details in the photos. The field of sticks, or roots, or vine remnants in the first looks as though it could have been mowed. The bands of color in the fourth are as interesting as they are attractive, and of course there are those ‘pancakes.’ I can’t get my mind around those at all. Maybe they aren’t pancakes at all, but coin of the botanical realm.

    I did pull up iNaturalist, just to see if I could find anything. Most of the reports are from the eastern side of Cebu; I found only one entry for Aloguinsan, and that was an Ixora. There wasn’t a single entry from the area around the river, although Bojo River cruises was on the map, and it was fun to trace your route, right up to the spot I think you’ve shown in your last photo.


    January 25, 2020 at 10:15 PM

    • I think the many slender woody things sticking up from the river in the first picture are akin to the so-called knees of bald cypresses. There seems to be a natural limit to how tall they grow. As for the “pancakes,” Eve, too, saw them as coins.

      I included the fourth picture primarily because the bands of rock in that stretch exhibited pastel colors.

      Your experience with iNaturalist confirms my impression that the program is used nowhere near as much in the Philippines as it is here. Not surprising, given the huge difference in wealth between the two countries.

      I can’t believe it’s been only six weeks since we were there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2020 at 11:08 AM

    • The roots in the first picture are apparently pencil roots:

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2020 at 5:03 AM

      • So interesting. Unlike cypress knees, which only are hypothesized to be conduits for oxygen, these are the real thing. I noticed in the section on stilt roots at that same site that the first photo looks remarkably like the second photo on your previous post about the roots: the ones that seemed to be stalking. In fact, now that I think of it, they were ‘stalking,’ although not in the way I meant originally.


        January 31, 2020 at 9:21 AM

        • Yes, there sure is a resemblance between those two photos. You made a good play on words with “stalking.” According to the American Heritage Dictionary, stalk (the noun) is unrelated to stalk (the verb).

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 31, 2020 at 4:21 PM

  8. Very interesting and beautiful!


    January 26, 2020 at 9:24 AM

  9. […] above shows the creek immediately upstream of the falls. (I could almost imagine I was back on the Bojo River in Cebu.) The yellow flowers are roughstem rosinweed, Silphium radula; you get a closer look at one […]

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