PHILIPPINES, ASIA

Lake Taal

Taal Lake is located about 60 km southeast of Manila, the capital of the Philippines on the main island Luzon. The fresh water lake is located within a complex volcanic caldera, one of the great volcano-tectonic depressions of the world. Its altitude is only 2,5 m and its surface measures 234,2 km². 37 tributaries drain into the lake; however, the only outlet is Pansipit River that drains into Balayan Bay. The active Taal volcano, which is responsible for the sulphur content of the lake, is located on an island in the center of the water, known as Volcano Island. In the center of this island lies a crater lake, which is the world's largest lake on an island in a lake on an island.

What makes it special

A connection to the sea in ancient times leads today to a very particular fish biodiversity, which evolved from sea fish into freshwater fish.

Protection status

· Taal Volcano Island National Park
· Protected Landscape (IUCN Category V)

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Biodiversity

As the lake in ancient times drained to the sea, it is today home to many endemic species that have evolved and adapted to the desalination of the lake’s waters. The lake has a freshwater-adapted population of trevally, Caranx ignobilis. It is the most popular endemic species is the overharvested Sardinella tawilis, a freshwater sardine. The two other endemic fish species in Taal Lake are the gobies Gnatholepis volcanus and Rhinogobius flavoventris. Taal Lake is also home to one of the world’s rarest sea snakes, Hydrophis semperi. This particular species is only one of two “true” sea snake (Hydrophiinae) species that live entirely in freshwater.

Local Communities

Taal Lake lays in a highly populated and rapidly growing agricultural and industrial region. The Philippine Government has designated the Taal region as a favored site for setting up new industries and infrastructures. The whole region surrounding Lake Taal is at considerable volcanic risk.

Threats

Overfishing is one of the biggest problems as well as the pollution of the lake through wastewater from the industry and households. Unsustainable development presents also a very real threat to the lake.