With one exception, these photos were taken at the weekly town market (locally called Tabuan) at Brooke’s Point, Palawan on February 28.
These fish are everyday staples. They are not “first class” fish in the sense that they will likely be passed over if there is a selection of fish that may be eaten fresh. Put another way, species like lapu-lapu (grouper, a shallower water fish) or tanigue (spanish mackarel, a deeper water fish), are more likely to be selected to be eaten fresh instead of the species below.
Other factors such as size or condition may disqualify a fish from being eaten fresh. Talakitok is a first-class fish but the talakitoks below were dried because of their size. Fish that were obtained through dynamite fishing (an illegal practice but one that is still practiced in numerous coastal communities, I was told) generally have shattered flesh. To avoid detection and to salvage the harvest, the fish are dried.
Palawan is the biggest producer of fish in the Philippines. According to the Bureau of Fisheries, in 2008, one out of every five fishy tons came from Palawan. (A fishy ton is a metric ton of fish.)
Let’s begin with serious mounds of fish.
Dried Fish -- Mounds of Dried Fish
A Serious Mound of Sapsap!
Dried Fish -- Sapsap - Slip Mouth. (They derive their name from the small but extendable mouth that slips out during feeding. The 30 species are restricted to salt or brackish waters in the Indo-Pacific region. Slipmouth are small, deep-bodied, compressed fishes that usually attain lengths of less than 15 cm (6 inches). Slipmouth are abundant in shallow coastal waters and are widely used for food. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548827/slipmouth)
Mounds of Dried Fish -- Tamban (Visayan), in the foreground - Sardines. According to the Bureau of Fisheries, six percent of all fish caught along coastal communities in the Philippines were Tamban.
Dried Fish -- a Mound of Dilis - Anchovies. One of my personal favorites. For breakfast. 😉 According to the Bureau of Fisheries, four percent of all fish caught along coastal communities were Dilis.
I met a familiar friend.
Then I ran into confusion.
Dried Fish -- Bararawan (?). The vendor called it "bararawan" but a search among the REFERENCES listed below returned no results. The mouth of the fish suggests that it nibbles on coral. The stripe marks reinforces that since similar markings are common among coral reef dwellers.
Don’t the fish above look like Samaral (Rabbitfish or Siganus)?
Dried Fish -- Bararawan. I know this will cause confusion. I showed this photo and the preceding one to two residents of Brooke's Point. One identified this fish as "bararawan" and the other identified the fish in the previous image as "bararawan." First of all, I can't find that name in any of the REFERENCES and secondly, the fishes in this image and the preceding one are clearly different. Any assistance will be appreciated!
Juvenile and Adult forms.
Dried Fish -- Talakitok -Trevally or Jack. These are juveniles. (The next image shows an adult.) I wonder if Filipinos are concerned that eating juveniles depletes the population of that species. (Because juveniles that reach adulthood lay more eggs.) I don't suppose so. I think that they are more concerned with the here and now, i.e., what they have to eat.
Talakitok - Trevally or Jack. This was an eight-kilo (17.6 pounds) adult. This fish was lying inside the ice chest of a fish buyer in Quezon, Palawan. He bought it from the fisherman at the rate of Php55 per kilo (Php refers to the Philippine Peso and at the current exchange rate, that's US$1.30 per kilo or 59 cents per pound!)
Some of these fish are kept in saltwater aquariums.
Fish is food and people will not bother to fine-tune their names for fish. So long as it’s edible, who cares, right? They’re not biologists. They just want to eat. The next three images are examples.
Dried Fish -- Tulis - Sardines. This is one of two varieties that locals called "tulis." The word "tulis" literally means "sharp." This fish appear to be sardines. The other "tulis" is another species.
Dried Fish -- Tulis. This is the second variety that locals called "tulis."
Dried Fish -- Mulmul or Molmol (Visayan) - Parrotfish (There are 80+ types of Parrotfish.) This is an "Isdang Bato," literally a "Fish of the Stone" which in turn means Coral Fish.
Why Rio Tuba?
Brooke’s Point is a coastal municipality. The vendors repeatedly told me that their stock came from Rio Tuba, a barangay of Bataraza some 40 kilometers south of Brooke’s Point. Why? Was the area around Brooke’s Point exhausted? I aim to find out.
Brooke's Point in relation to Rio Tuba. Why were the dried fish coming from Rio Tuba?
Local Names of Philippine Fishes
Common Philippine Marine Products
Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources, Municipal Production 2008