The Dominican Republic is home to around 7,000 species of fauna. Among the various animal species existing on the island, Reptiles and Amphibians are widely represented. Among them it is worth mentioning two endangered species, the American crocodile and the Ricordi iguana. The symbolic animal of the Dominican Republic is the "palm bird" or Cigua Palmera, an endemic species of the island. The real queens of Dominican fauna are the almost 1,500 humpback whales that return to Samaná Bay every year to mate and reproduce.
In addition to humpback whales, the flagship of Dominican fauna, there is an important presence of manatees, turtles and corals.
The Caribbean manatee is an endangered herbivorous mammal that lives in river estuaries and lagoons. Many of those who inhabit the north coast find refuge in the protected lagoon of the Estero Hondo Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
For the turtles, however, there are 4 species that we can meet in Dominican waters: the common turtle, the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle and the leatherback turtle. Many nest on the beaches of Saona island and that is why a reproduction and protection center has been opened in the village of Mano Juan. Another nesting site is located in the southwest, in the waters of the Jaragua National Park.
Coral reefs, present in various sizes, are found in different places on the island. Due to climate change, parts of the coral reef and small scattered formations have been dying. The most intact coral formation is found at the level of the Montecristi coast, but also around the islands of Cayo Arena, Catalina, Saona and off the north coast of Samaná we can admire beautiful corals. In Bayahibe, an association of biologists passionate about the sea and its creatures is involved in the repopulation of these reefs.
CROCODILES AND IGUANas
The American crocodile lives and reproduces in Lake Enriquillo, despite the annual shrinking of the banks this endangered reptile lays its eggs here in the summer. Therefore, to observe this rare species, the period from June to September is the best. The Iguana of Ricordi also lives in Lake Enriquillo, a species at risk of extinction that we also find in the Jaragua National Park. The southwestern coast, which extends as far as Pedernales, is home to one of the largest colonies of iguanas in the Dominican Republic.
We could define the Dominican Republic as a small natural refuge for more than three hundred species of birds that populate it. Among them 32 are endemic, such as the Cigua Palmera, the symbol of the country, or the Gavilan de la Hispaniola, a species that is endemic as well extinction. Numerous species are also visible along the coasts and in the northern and southern hilly areas but for birdwatchers the best sighting sites are in the Sierra de Bahoruco, natural habitat of almost all endemic species or in other national parks such as the Valle Nuevo National Park , Jaragua National Park, Lago Enriquillo National Park and Los Haitises National Park. Numerous species are also visible along the coasts and in the northern and southern hills.