Saving the endangered Tawilis

Published March 6, 2021, 9:18 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Good news for lovers of crispy tawilis.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has announced that the world’s only freshwater sardine which can only be found in Taal Lake has been successfully reared alive off site or away from its natural location. 

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

 DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said it was the  Limnological Station of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB-LS), headed by Dr. Ma. Vivian C. Camacho, that achieved a major breakthrough in tawilis conservation research last Feb. 23, 2021.  Camacho is the current station manager and associate professor at the Animal Biology Division of the Institute of Biological Sciences.

“The team has successfully kept Sardinella tawilis, locally known as tawilis alive for several weeks in captivity at UPLB-LS in Los Baños, Laguna, away from Taal Lake, where it is known to be endemic,” de la Peña said. 

“This fish is found only in Taal Lake and nowhere else in the world and has been declared as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in January 2019,” he noted. 

The phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12, 2020 prodded the DOST – Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Resource Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), to commission UPLB – LS to implement a research project entitled “Fish Ark Project for Taal Lake: Direction for Conservation of the Endemic Freshwater Fish Sardinella tawilis”, de la Peña said. 

The primary aim of the research project was “to save tawilis from possible extinction should there be a massive eruption.”

“This is a significant development in tawilis research, since this is the first time this endemic fish has been successfully collected, transported and reared alive ex-situ.”

 
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