|Taal seahorse (maybe pipefish) c/o Doc Nielsen|
Then fresh from an animal operation (a big dog got ‘crashed’ by a water tank, but is now safe), Doc Nielsen (one of the hosts of the TV show) showed up -luckily without the dog or blood scent haha! Doc N has been in the show for quite some time but it was the first time we met. Well, we sort of knew each other anyway given common acquaintances so we’re not really strangers.
He just recently came back from a 10-day Taal documentary work – and I was surprised about some findings (and pictures) that he shared with me.
The picture posted here was claimed by locals to be a seahorse (although I think it’s a pipefish, a close relative of a seahorse). I’m a frequent visitor of Taal either for leisure, trainings (ex. sailing, boat rescue), kayaking but not into-deep about its marine life (unlike the neighbouring Verde passage). Sure I did a docu work with Born about this place, had a few quick encounters with sea snakes (they pop their heads up to breathe), and observed thousands of sea birds frequenting the area – but still has not deep-dived (figuratively and literally) in this lake.
I told Doc that he and the fishermen might have discovered new, unnamed species. There was another picture of a flat, striped/bonded EEL, and he claimed to have seen (or heard?) a big ‘sugpo’ shrimp (not Ulang given the absence of claw). I suggested a check with some international marine-biological institutes to establish uniqueness or endemicity and even suggested, in jest- an ending/specie name ‘Nielsini’, and he countered “Donatiti” (from his first name Donato) – but we immediately decided against the latter. Haha!
My feeling about these finds was that – Taal lake still has some hidden treasure awaiting discovery. The eco focus these days is really preserving the lake (reducing if not eliminating those fish cages –along with the non-endemic Tilapia- which contributes to the lake’s demise), but should be matched up by a more dedicated study about its hidden treasures. So far, we know of the freshwater sardines (Tawilis), the small sea snake (freshwater ‘sea snake’) and maliputo (migratory jackfish), but not much more.
In general - I believe it’s but natural and very logical to have these, and many more species thriving in this place. When Taal lake was landlocked some 400yrs ago, it’s not just the sea snake and the Tawilis that were ‘trapped’ – but an entire eco-system that used to live there. So it should be no surprise that other species (like the pipefish) adapted, even evolved to a freshwater environment – to continue living, evolving and thriving in this majestic volcano-lake!
Baka nga may sirena pa eh! :)