Plan to breed ‘golden’ bangus dies with lone specimen

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10:35 PM July 28th, 2012

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July 28th, 2012 10:35 PM

BFAR research center Chief Westly Rosario with the “golden” bangus in April. RAY ZAMBRANO/INQUIRER N. LUZON

DAGUPAN CITY—This city’s dream to breed “golden” bangus has gone belly up.

Dr. Westly Rosario, research center chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said a rare golden bangus, notable for its bright yellow scales and fin, died on June 24 “probably because of the water quality” of its containment pond.

“The pond where the bangus was lodged was continuously pumped with sea water. But there was a problem with the pump’s water intake [valve] which was filled with sand, so water could not enter the pond,” he said.

As a result, the bangus, which weighed 1.2 kg, could have died because of the absence of dissolved oxygen, he said.

Instead of burying the golden bangus at the center’s cemetery for endangered species, specialists decided to preserve it in a jar.

The BFAR had planned to promote the golden bangus as a symbol of the milkfish industry’s revitalization.

The agency was scheduled to crossbreed the golden bangus with a silver bangus when it turns five years old, considered to be its sexual maturity age, Rosario said.

The 16-month-old bangus was donated to the BFAR by fishpond operator Ariel Fernandez of Binmaley town on May 14. Initially, the fish was kept isolated in a tank, but its keepers realized that it had turned weak and stressed, according to BFAR officials.

The golden bangus was transferred to another pond, sharing the waters with a sea bass and a few crabs. That’s where it died a month later.

The fish’s golden color was uncommon, and Rosario believed it was similar to albinism in mammals, which is a congenital disorder characterized by the absence of pigmentation on the skin, hair and irises.

The 1.2-kg fish was the first of its kind to be documented in the Philippines.

“Some people believe that the golden bangus brings good luck, so the bangus was spared,” he said. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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