Giant sea turtle puts to test coastal folks’ habitat concern

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Leatherback turtle. Facebook Photo
Leatherback turtle. Facebook Photo

By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, 20July2013 – Had the coastal villagers not known its importance to the ecosystem amid climate change, this huge turtle could have been a sumptuous meal item on the poor man’s table.

But the way the local folk – from the person who found the sea creature to those who have come to witness its eggs – have exercised the necessary care and diligence so as not to endanger some 100 eggs buried in the sand on the shorelines of Barangay Rawis where the turtle was found at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

“This one event is historical and a first-ever documented laying of eggs by a giant leatherback turtle in the Philippines, hence, it is imperative that we should see to it that these turtle eggs will be accorded with proper protection so as to ensure the survival of the hatchlings,” said Gilbert Gonzales, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol regional executive director.

The DENR, Provincial Government of Albay and Naval Forces for Southern Luzon have joined hands to ensure protection of the eggs of the turtle and ensure that these will hatch within the protocol of the DENR.

Gonzales also tasked his men to establish a perimeter fence for the “no entry” zone until personnel from the Pawikan Conservation Project of the DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau from the central office arrive to take the lead in assessing whether or not the eggs will be transferred to a safer ground.

“I already assigned focal persons from the protected area and wildlife division to monitor the eggs frequently until they hatch within the incubation period, and also to make coordination with adjacent coastal barangays, through their local officials, in monitoring the beach head for a possible return of the giant leatherback turtle to lay eggs again after two weeks,” Gonzales said.

The turtle immediately left after laying eggs, villagers said.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda is also monitoring the occurrence and employing means to complement the conservation and protection effort while the Navforsol has stationed personnel to watch the nesting area against possible intrusion.

Salceda explained that this phenomenon is a great chance to educate people on the proper treatment of sea animals and help maintain a balanced ecosystem.

“This is a hands-on experience for environment and nature lovers, the people and the young generations,” he said. (PNA)

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