Banak or Mullets belong to the family Mugilidae which occur in the tropical waters in all the major oceans.
They can adapt to both salt and freshwaters. They prefer to stay in brackish waters close to mangroves and estuaries where the freshwater river meets with salty coastal waters.
They reach maturity age at three years to start mating. They can grow and reach 30-50 cm long. Their body is cylindrical with a blunt nose and a broad and flattened head.
They are catadromous which means adult individuals release sperm and eggs into the sea to spawn and after the eggs are hatched, the juveniles then migrate into freshwater to grow as adults. This cycle of moving from rivers to the sea is repeated during the spawning season.
Species from these families swim in schools in benthopelagic zones on sand and mud bottoms to feed on zooplanktons and microalgae. During migration, they become prey to seabirds and large marine animals including dolphins and whales. Sharks also feed on large Mullets.
Most Filipinos including Boholanos call species from this family as Banak. Banak is one of the important fishery products sold in the Markets of Bohol. The best way to cook Banak is paksiw or “inun-on,” fried or prito, and grilled or sinugba stuffed with spices. It has the texture of a freshwater fish but tastes like that of a seawater fish.
The Island of Banacon in Getafe, Bohol received its name from Banak which was abundant in its mangrove forests and estuaries before. Their numbers decreased when local fishermen practiced destructive fishing techniques and excessive cutting of mangroves in the area.
Now the islanders are striving hard to regain the beauty of the past by planting mangrove trees and practicing sustainable fishing methods. Banacon Island has now become an Eco-tourist destination with its biggest mangrove plantation in the country which provides sanctuaries for marine animals.
Source: @natmuseumbohol via Text by NMP Bohol with contributions from Jasmin Meren | NMP Zoology Division