In the Old Testament, Noah built an ark, unknowing if the rains would ever come, he entrusted his fate with God.
Limnology experts at the University of the Philippines Los Baños have turned themselves into little Noahs, building “arks” to provide a haven to our native and endemic freshwater fishes. The collected fishes, according to Dr. Vachel Gay Paller of the UPLB Limnological Research Station (UPLB LRS), will be part of the “Fish Ark Philippines”—a project aimed to study and conserve these erstwhile untapped resources.
Although the Philippines is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, little is known about its many natural resources. Almost absent is the information on the status of the Philippines’ small endemic freshwater fishes, even though there are at least 20 species known inhabiting the southern portion of Luzon Island.
Dr. Pablo Ocampo, also of the UPLB LRS and who is at the helm of the Fish Ark Philippines project, recently reported that small freshwater fishes in three watersheds areas in Makiling Forest Reserve and Lake Tadlac in Los Baños, Laguna have been documented and collected in 2008. Fishes have also been collected from the Pansipit River and Ambon-ambon Falls in Batangas province. Aside from collecting the fish specimens, the study group, led by Dr. Paller, was able to study the habitats where the fish were sampled.
Dr. Paller has already collected 26 different fish species, 14 of which are very small (50 – 100mm in length). Two of the fish species are native, while another two are endemic species with good potential for captive breeding.
Project “Fish Ark Philippines” is funded by the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology. It also aims to survey freshwater fishes found in the vicinity of Mt. Banahaw (Quezon), Taal Volcano (Batangas), Mt. Isarog, Iriga-Masaraga Mountain Range and Bulusan Volcano (Bicol Region). Dr. Paller are specialists in paritology (fish parasites) and zoology, respectively at UPLB.