Posted in 05 Nov 2016 by Dhave Dhanang
Decorated with coconut and ketapang trees, Lake Poso is gigantic. The first man encountering this lake had to think that it was an ocean.
I hopped out of the vehicle in disbelief. There was an ocean amidst an island, along with sandy shoreline, coconut trees swayed by the breeze, and the wave that kept hitting the beach. The scenery I gazed at was so surreal. I’d think that I was in the heart of the Carribean if I didn’t know that I was standing 657 meters above sea level. And instead of being in the heart of the Carribean, I was in the center of Sulawesi. What I saw wasn’t an ocean but a big lake—Lake Poso.
Lake Poso is situated in the district of Pamona Utara. Tentena, the capital of Pamona Utara, is 57 kilometers away from the city of Poso. It is the third largest lake in Indonesia—32 kilometers long and 16 kilometers wide. It is gigantic, really. Decorated with coconut and ketapang trees, the first man encountering this lake had to think that it was an ocean. But as he sipped the water—freshwater—he’d realized that it was a lake instead.
The most interesting spot of Lake Poso is Siuri, whose scenery looks like that of the ‘real beach.’ Siuri is located in the village of Tonusi. Though it is still in Pamona Utara, in order to get there we have to follow a narrow road which only fits for a single car. Situated on highland, the road is hugged by thick forest and cocoa plantations.
When I scrutinized it, it seemed that the yellow-brownish color comes from the rocks.
Unlike that of the beach, the weather was cool that day in Siuri. It was misty. White accents filled the valleys and creavaces, and most of the time the sun light was blocked by the mist.
At a glance, the white sands along the beach were quite similar with that of the ocean—formed from the remnants of sea creatures. Yet when I scrutinized it, it seemed that the yellow-brownish color comes from the rocks. Some of them were lustrous and others were transparent. If they were a little bit bigger, they would be mistaken for agate.
I couldn’t wait to jump in the water. Yet as I stepped one of my feet to the water, I still could not figure whether it was an ocean or merely a lake. Yes, it was a lake—the water is cold and fresh. It wasn’t salty as well. Then I tried to dive deep to the bottom of the lake. It was easy as the density is much lower than that of the ocean—and my eyes wasn’t sore as the water is not briny.
Lake Poso is situated in the district of Pamona Utara. Tentena, the capital of Pamona Utara, is 57 kilometers away from the city of Poso.
Fish were scattered everywhere looking for a hideout as I chased them out. It is said that there are several kinds of fish inhabiting this lake—nila, mujair, ikan mas, sogili, and bungu. The most famous is sogili, which looks like eel and is commonly known as sidat. Thanks to human; it is rather difficult to fish sogili today.
Unlike salmon which is going to go upstream when spawning, sogili will go downstream to the estuary. When the spawns have hatched and grown, they will swim back to the lake. The problem is, it is difficult for sogili to even reach the estuary nowadays because near Pamona bridge people will be ready with their giant bubus (traditional fish traps) to catch the migrating sogili—let alone the activities of PLTA (hydroelectric power plant) Sulewana. It is also not easy for them to go back to their ‘homeland.’ Perhaps in near future sogili will follow its senior—bungu fish—which has already vanished from the realm of Lake Poso.
The white sands along the beach were quite similar with that of the ocean.
However, it is always interesting to learn local legends or myths. To wrap this story, I’d tell a myth of Lake Poso. People surrounding the lake believe that on certain nights there will be an apparition of Silo Ndano or the lamp of the lake. The legend says that it is not a mere lamp but a crown of a dragon guarding the lake. When the light comes fishermen have to go back to the shore as soon as possible for fear that they would suffer on bad luck. The moral story is that one should limit himself in order not to exploit the lake exceedingly. Hitherto the myth of the guardian of the lake is still believed by local society. Perhaps besides Silo Ndano the dragon, we need to take part in guarding Lake Poso.
This article is written by Dhave Dhanang and previously published on his personal blog. Translated by telusuRI.
A biologist who is trapped in the world of photography, adventure, and journalism.