Taal's Animals: Endangered Tawilis Now in Even More Danger

The endemic species faces even more uncertainty.

(SPOT.ph) Taal's ongoing eruptions have displaced thousands of people—but it's not just humans trying to flee the volcano's wrath. Animals have also been affected by the huge amounts of ash raining from the sky, with people scrambling to rescue the horses of Volcano Island. But the tremors and ashfall is affecting more of Taal's animals: the tawilisDeclared an endangered species in 2019, this freshwater sardine might be facing even more dwindling numbers due to the eruption.

A massive ash column rises from Taal Volcano on January 12.
PHOTO Courtesy of Michelle Calma

Volcanic hazards might affect the quality of water in Taal Lake, as debris and ash from the crater fall straight into it. "What’s dangerous is the volcano’s acidic effect so we have to monitor the water’s oxygen level," said Francisco Torres Jr. of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute in a report by Inquirer.net

Torres pointed out that fish cages in Taal Lake are in danger, should water quality change. "[The fish] would not be able to go out of these cages and eventually suffocate and die," he added. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has reported around 6,000 fish cages in the lake, with possible losses amounting to 15,033 metric tons, according to a report by the Manila Bulletin.

The Taal Volcano remains on Alert Level 4 as of the morning of January 16, days after it first erupted on January 12. A "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days," according to the latest bulletin from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

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Despite all the hazards, Torres remains optimistic that tawilis will survive the eruptions, describing it a "reselient animal." After all, the sardine is known to exist only in Taal Lake, having adapted to fresh water when the bay was closed off during eruptions in the 18th century. Fingers crossed we'll see a return of the days of tawilis being a tourist mainstay alongside the bulalo!

Main image from Robbie Cada of FishBase/Wikimedia Commons.

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