A 1.2-KILOGRAM bangus (milkfish) kept at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Dagupan City may not be worth its weight in gold, but it is fast becoming an attraction because of its golden scales.
The “golden bangus” made its presence felt just as Dagupan started activities for its 11th Bangus Festival this month.
This milkfish, aged one year and four months, could be a freak of nature, said Westly Rosario, BFAR center chief. It has golden scales, head, fins and tail, a deviation from the silver-colored milkfish.
Rosario said albinism (a condition where a person or animal lacks or has little pigment in the eyes, skin and hair) was the only possible explanation because there was no scientific intervention to produce such variety.
“It is unlike red tilapia which is produced by crossing two species. The golden bangus could be a freak of nature because there is only one species of bangus, which is Chanos chanos,” he said.
Whatever the cause of its unusual appearance, BFAR personnel were hoping that the golden bangus would become a symbol to improve the industry, he said.
Rosario said he had seen a golden bangus seven years ago in Taiwan, but this was the first time that such kind was reported in the Philippines.
The golden bangus was donated to the BFAR by fishpond operator Ariel Fernandez of Barangay (village) Tocok in Binmaley, Pangasinan, who returned the fish to the pond every time it was accidentally harvested.
“Some people believe that the golden bangus, or anything that is not ordinary, brings good luck, so the bangus was spared every harvest. When he (Fernandez) mentioned it to me, I asked him to donate it to the BFAR for breeding purposes,” Rosario said.
Bangus becomes sexually mature after about five years so it may take a long time before the golden bangus will breed. Rosario said BFAR technicians had yet to determine the sex of the milkfish.
“It is possible that some [fingerlings] from the golden bangus, when crossed with the silver bangus, will likely be golden, too, but that remains to be seen,” Rosario said.
The golden bangus has been isolated in a tank at the BFAR center so technicians could monitor its health and growth.
“The question now is, since milkfish is called as such because of its milky color, how do we call now the golden bangus?” Rosario asked.