“Tikod Amo” is the local name of an endemic oyster species known to the people living in the Barobo Coastal waters in Lianga Bay, Surigao del Sur. This unique oyster got its name because its adductor muscle resembles that of a monkey’s heel.
According to Gemma A. Asufre, researcher from the Surigao del Sur State University (SDSSU) this oyster species is seemed to be unknown in the international species nomenclature database as no information that describes its biological features was found. Hence, it was assumed that “Tikod Amo” is a new species under the genus Spondylus.
Tikod Amo, an academic oyster species thriving in the coastal waters of Lianga Bay, Surigao del Sur, got its name from its adductor muscle which looks like a heel of a monkey.
The researcher from SDSSU is further trying to determine its species identification as this is crucial in the culture of this endemic species. “Tikod Amo” is even aesthetically attractive with the five colors of its internal parts. Its closest relative is the Spondylys squamosos with five percent difference in DNA to Tikod Amo.
Although unknown to many, this endemic oyster species is said to be delicious and tasty making it a favorite seafood delicacy among the locals. Catching “Tikod Amo” has also become a good source of income among the marginalized fishers in the coastal areas of Surigao del Sur.
Given its high demand locally the price of “Tikod Amo” is higher than the price of any ordinary oyster meat available in the market. Its current price in the market is at P400 per kilo for the unshelled meat. With such demand, the local production cannot adequately supply the local hotels and restaurants.
Internationally, it is also gaining popularity. Among the foreigners who came to know about this rare oyster species, “Tikod Amo” has become a hit, merely out of curiosity of its distinct taste. In fact, Asufre revealed that “Koreans and Chinese who come to the Philippines to buy sea cucumber for export are also willing to export Tikod Amo if there’s a supply. One interested supplier wanted to buy at least 300 kilos per week.”
With the increasing demand for “Tikod Amo” and the constant harvest, the natural stock of this oyster in the wild is now being threatened. Also, the practice among gatherers of collecting spat (baby oysters) from the wilds is not sustainable and it poses a threat, not only to the diversity of oyster species in the area, but also to the hard coral substrates where these species naturally dwell.As a result, oyster catch have declined by 40 to 60 percent between 2006 to 2008.
To further mitigate the possible direct imapact of this kind of practice to the environment particularly the sustainability of its production, the potential of Tikod Amo as an oyster species was studied. Hence, the project titled, “Preliminary Study of Tikod Amo on its Potential as an Oyster Culture Species” was implemented by SDSSU with funding support from the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). The study, initiated in 2008 and completed in 2010, was led by Asufre and Miguel O. Baay, assistant regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), CARAGA.
One of the important results that the study generated is the culture technology of “Tikod Amo”. Asufre said that, “Aquaculture of Tikod Amo offers a great opportunity for learning about its biology and may produce the key to restoring depleted areas.”
One of the key recommendations of the group of Asufre is using the “bottom polyculture” in culturing Tikod Amo.
Polyculture is the practice of culturing more than one species of aquatic organism in the same pond. The motivating principle is that fish production in ponds may be maximized by raising a combination of species having different food habits. The concept of polyculture of fish is based on the concept of total utilization of different trophic and spatial niches of a pond in order to obtain maximum fish production per unit area. The mixture of fish gives better utilization of available natural food produced in a pond. The compatible fish species having complimentary feeding habits are stocked so that all the ecological niches of pond ecosystem are effectively utilised (Singh, 2013).
Compared with monoculture system of fish, the possibilities of increasing fish production per unit area, through polyculture, is considerably higher and more profitable. This is because combining different species in polyculture system effectively improved the pond environment.
“For growing Tikod Amo, we recommend the bottom polyculture. It’s culturing the oyster at the bottom of the pond. We grow these oysters together with seaweeds and fishes like milkfish, grouper, and siganid in the mariculture areas of Barobo Bay,” explained Asufre.
The integration of oysters in a polyculture system may be applied on 146 hectares of fishpens in the mariculture zone.
According to Asufre, this kind of culture system will not only increase the production of Tikod Amo, together with other species, but it will also expand employment both among mariculture fishermen and oyster gatherers. ###
For more information on Tikod Amo and its culture technology, please contact Ms. Gemma A. Asufre, SDSSU at cp no. 0946-333-0229
1. Asufre, Gemma A. (2012). Preliminary Study of Tikod Amo on its Potential as an Oyster Culture Species. Unpublished Terminal report submitted to DA-BAR.
2. Singh, Prabjeet, et al. (2013). “Polyculture – A culture practice to utilize all ecological niches of pond ecosystem effectively.” Aquafind: Aquatic Fish Database. Retrieved from: http://aquafind.com/articles/Polyculture.php Retrieved on: 11 March 2013.
by Rita T. dela Cruz, www.bar.gov.ph