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Fish and Marine Wealth


          Philippine rivers, lakes and seas teem with fish, shells, pearls, corals, seaweeds and other forms of marine wealth. More than 2,000 species of fish are found in Philippine waters. Among the commercially known fish found in the numerous fishing grounds of the archipelago are the banak (mullet), bangus (milkfish), dalag (mudfish), dilis (anchovy), kandule (catfish), lapulapu (seabass), talakitok (pampano), tamban and tunsoy (sardines), tanguingi (mackerel), and bariles (tuna).

          Both the largest and the smallest fish in the world are found in the Philippines. According to marine biologists, the world's largest fish is the whale shark (Rhineodon typus), which is 50 feet or more in length and weighs several tons when fully grown. It was first sighted off the coast of Mariveles, Manila Bay in 1816 by Filipino fishermen, who called it pating bulik (striped shark) because of the black stripes on its body.

          The smallest fish in the world is Pandaka pygmaea  (dwarf pygmy). It was discovered in 1925 in the Malabon River which empties into Manila Bay. Although native of the Philippines, Pandaka pygmaea has no native name yet. Its average length is 9.66 millimeters, being 3 millimeters smaller than the famous sinarapan (Mistichtvs luzonensis) which exists in Lake Buhi, Camarines Sur. Formerly the sinarapan (also known locally as tabyos) held the title of "the smallest fish in the world".

          Aside form fish, the Philippine waters yield other marine products, such as shells, snails, crabs, shrimps, sponges, turtles, corals, pearls and edible seaweeds. Of the 60,000 species of shells known to man, about 10,000 are available in the Philippines. The world's rarest and most expensive shell, called "Glory of the Sea" (Connus gloriamaris), is found in the Philippines. Also found in the archipelago are Tridacna gigas, the world's largest shell which has a length of one meter and weighs 600 pounds, and Pisidum, the smallest shell in the world. Which is less than one millimeter long. One of Asia's great spawning grounds of huge sea turtles is the Turtle Islands in the Sulu Sea. Along the sandy beaches of these islands are found numerous turtles, whose meat and eggs are a gourmet's delight. Beneath the seas of Palawan and Sulu are located Asia's rich pearl beds. Since time immemorial many pearls of fabulous beauty and value have been obtained from these pearl beds by expert native divers.

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