Thursday Oct, 17 2019 01:54:56 PM

528 Pawikan hatchlings released in Sarangani Bay

Breaking News • 22:00 PM Tue May 21, 2019
Rowanne Sumagpao/denr-12
"May your tribe increase," environmentalists say as sea turtles crawl back to their habitat.(DENR-12 photo)

KORONADAL CITY – Some 528 baby sea turtles made their way back home after being released to their natural habitat at Barangay Lumasal, Maasim, Saranggani on Friday, May 16 at around 5:30 in the afternoon.

The olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) were born at Maasim Pawikan Hatchery, the biggest number of hatchlings recorded since its establishment in 2015.

Nilo B. Tamoria, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region XII Regional Executive Director spearheaded the release of pawikan hatching together with the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Officer of Kiamba, Forester Jesus Boja, Chief of Coastal Resource and Foreshore Management Section (CRFMS), Felix C. Robles and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Maasim.

“It is much better that the release of pawikan hatchlings should be done late in the afternoon to ensure greater chances of their survival. Accordingly, only 1 percent of the released sea turtles is expected to survive into adulthood,” Tamoria said.

“The journey of these baby sea turtles is not easy. They are not only threatened by the presence of predators in the ocean that they might be eaten by big fishes and sharks but as well as pollution and the presence of plastic waste brought by humans,” Tamoria added.

“It is important to take care of our marine ecosystem. I called on to the communities to help us in protecting and conserving our coastal areas. Let us be responsible in our respective wastes. There are several reported stranding of pawikan and this indicate that there is something wrong with our coastal environment,” said Tamoria.

Further, Robles shared that a female pawikan released will return to their birthplace to also lay their eggs in the next 20 to 25 years.

“We let pawikan hatchlings to crawl into sea. It will help them remember where they come from. They imprint on the unique magnetic field of their birthplace and the female ones use this information to return to their birthplace to nest,” Robles said.

The shores of Baranggay Lumasal, Maasim, Saranggani and nearby communities are the nesting sites of sea turtles.

Accordingly, the coastal residents have increased awareness on the importance of sea turtles to the coastal ecosystems.

“The pawikan eggs come from the adjacent Barangays. Our community is aware that if they see pawikan laying eggs, they immediately send the eggs to the hatchery so that the caretakers of the hatchery area will transplant the eggs,” Acting MENRO of Maasim Alejandra Sison said.

A caretaker of the Maasim Pawikan Hatchery and Learning Center disclosed that they have already recorded about 19,000 pawikan hatchlings that were released back to the sea since 2015.

The said hatchery now caters thousands of pawikan eggs properly labelled.

“A strengthened partnership and collaboration between the DENR, the Local Government Units of Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum and other sectors of the society will ensure protection and preservation of marine life,” CENRO Boja said.

A continuous information and education campaign will also be conducted to the coastal residents focusing on solid waste management.

“Reported stranding of marine animals revealed that one reason of their death was plastic ingestion,” he added.

Olive ridley also known as the Pacific ridley is the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.

This species of sea turtle is found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

According to conservation status they are vulnerable to extinction or their population is decreasing. Possession and deliberate killing is punishable by law under Republic Act 9147.



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