Lake Buhi

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          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 resources.

          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.

Source: Managing and Conserving Lake Buhi
           by: Cely S. Binoya, et al
Published by: SEARCA

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