Freshwater Sardinella (Tagalog: Tawilis)
Taal Lake is home to the world’s only freshwater sardine locally known as Tawilis. Found exclusively in Lake Taal it is the only member of the sardine family that is known to exist exclusively in freshwater. In the 18th century large eruptions sealed Taal Lake from the sea forcing the trapped Tawilis into evolving into a purely freshwater species.
Tawilis stocks in Lake Taal have been commercially fished for several decades. The fish is a popular food fish in the Philippines, and tons are shipped to most of the major cities in the country. In addition to raw consumption, tawilis are also eaten dried and salted. The species is threatened by overfishing with many experts believing that they will eventually become extinct.
Garman’s Sea Snake
The Garman Sea Snake is a rare sea snake found only in Taal Lake. It is the only known species of sea snake to live -exclusively in freshwater. The snake is usually 50 cm to 70 cm in length and coloured much like a typical sea snake, having a dark blue or black body with alternating yellow bands encircling its body.
Like many other species endemic to the lake, it is vulnerable as a species to any effects on the lake’s ecosystem. The numerous commercial establishments, towns and plantations dumping chemicals and sewage into the lake, combined with the dense population of fish farms in the lake’s waters may yet have an adverse effect on the health of the species as a whole.
Giant Trevally (Tagalog: Maliputo)
A population of giant trevally ‘maliputo’ were once common in Taal Lake. The ‘maliputo’ is prominently featured on the reverse side of the newly redesigned Philippine 50 Peso bill.
Bull sharks used to be part of the lake’s once-diverse ecosystem but were unfortunately exterminated by the locals in the 1970’s.