Lake Buhi is a lake found in the town of Buhi, Camarines Sur, a province located
in the Bicol Region of Luzon. It has an area of 18 square kilometres and
has an average depth of 8 meters. The lake lays in the valley formed by two
ancient volcanoes, Mount Iriga and Mount Malimas. This formation was created in
1641, when an earthquake caused a side of Mount Iriga to collapse. The
resulting landslide created a natural dam that blocked the flow of nearby
streams. Another theory suggests that it was created by the eruption of Mount Asog which is now a dormant volacano.
Only in Lake Buhi
The Lake showcases an enchanting beauty with its undulating mountain slopes
and long stretches of shoreline. The major economic activities in Buhi
are agriculture and fishing, both of which depend greatly on the lake's
Lake Buhi is famous since it is one of the few bodies of water that contains the
Sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis) which is recorded in the Guiness
World Record as the world's smallest commercial fish. Sinarapan measures
only around 2.1 - 2.4 mm long or smaller than a ten
centavo coin. The name Sinarapan came from the word "sarap" which refers to
the fine net used for fishing.
The Biodiversity of the Lake
Aside from the Sinarapan, the lake is also home to 7 other native fish
species; Irin-irin (Goby, Redigobius dispar), Dalag (Snakehead murrel,
Channa striata), Atas, Puyo (Climbing perch, Anabas testudines), among
others. At least 4 fish species have been
introduced to the lake in order to boost inland fisheries production: Nile
Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus),
Karpa (Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio) and Bankok Hito (Catfish, Clarias sp.).
The surrounding forest of Lake Buhi is home of at least 25 birds species, 5
of which are endemic species: Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Philippine
Hanging Parrot, Elegant Tit, Black-naped Monach and White-eared Brown Dove.
The multi-use and economic activities in the Lake
Apart from being a haven to its rich biodiversity, Lake Buhi serves as the main source of
livelihood for the residents in Buhi, Camarines Sur. Fourteen tributaries
converged into the lake. A Hydro Electric Plant of the National Power
Corporation generates about 2.8 megawatts of power
from this lake. Buhi also supplies the National Irrigation Administration
with water, irrigating at least 12,000 hectares in the RINCONADA area
including the Municipality of Pili and Iriga City.
The fishing industry thrives lively in Buhi especially with the
tiny Sinarapan that are only found in Lake Buhi and its surrounding
lakelets. The most important of these lakelets is Manapao where a small
sanctuary and repopulation project for Sinarapan is being undertaken. Due to
the declining population of this endemic fish, the municipality has banned
the fishing of Sinarapan until its population stabilizes.
The emerging environmental problems in Lake Buhi
There have been episodes of mass fishkill recorded in
the Lake. The worst happened in 1998 where the fishkill reached an estimated
toll of 25 million tilapia. The fish kill is locally referred to as "Kanuba"
for the sulfur smell that accompanied the phenomenon. The Kanuba was pegged
to upwelling, a sudden influx of warm water in the lake. However, the
problem of oxidation cannot totally be ruled out. The area has a slight
problem with agricultural run-off but the biggest source of anxiety for the
municipality is the unmitigated proliferation of fish cages.