The National Museum Bohol features another bizarre-looking fish found in the waters surrounding the island province: the Bakasi (Gymnothorax sp.).
These eels occur in the world’s tropical waters, inhabiting the shallow parts of sandy and rocky seabeds and lagoons. As with other eels, it has a snake-like appearance. These creatures are usually observed at night at reef caverns, feeding on crustaceans and small fishes.
Bakasi is considered an important local food source and a delicacy in the coastal communities of Bohol. Handmade traps called “bantak”, a cylindrical trap made of bamboo strips, are used to catch these eels.
In Bohol, this fish is usually cooked with coconut milk and spices called nilabog. Cebu’s famous soup called nilarang is stewed bakasi in soy sauce, black beans, tomatoes, and tamarind.
Coastal communities rely on the bounty of the sea for sustenance and livelihood. We can help keep healthy populations of marine creatures by prohibiting the use of destructive fishing methods such as dynamite and cyanide fishing. Let us promote instead the revival of traditional fishing practices which are eco-friendly and sustainable.