The Alimanguan Sagip Pawikan (ASP) in San Vicente town is making progress in its aim to conserve and protect the sea turtles with the release Sunday morning of 87 Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings from the first nest of around 110.
ASP founder Zane May Dasal said the event marked their group’s first hatchling release on a beach in Barangay Alimanguan with the participation of mayor Amy Alvarez.
“Dito yan sa Alimanguan Beach from our first nest — Olive ridley sea turtles yan na 87 hatchlings. Marami pa po kaming nests na papisa na ang mga eggs,” Dasal said.
Dasal said on Saturday night, January 2, around 10 mother Olive ridley sea turtles went up to their nesting spots in Alimanguan, which proves that they consider the place their safe haven for giving birth.
The Olive ridley sea turtle is a species in the family Cheloniidae, which grows up to two feet. It is known as the second smallest sea turtle in the world and said to be the most abundant among all other species.
Though their population is still many, they have been classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and are listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Dasal said they have to wait for 45 to 70 days for the other nests to hatch and are looking forward to doing more releases.
“Starting po today (Sunday) at bukas (Monday), at the other days — pang 45-70 days na nila. Mag-aakyatan na yan sila. Binabantayan na namin lumabas,” she said.
“Yong team, worth it ang pagod at puyat sa pagro-roving every middle of the night just to protect the eggs. We are very thankful na mayaman ang Alimanguan sa San Vicente sa likas na yaman. Hindi namin akalain na magkaka-110 turtle nests kami at dadami pa hanggang April. Iba ang saya kapag nakaka-save ng baby turtles,” Dasal said.
Dasal said it is different to just see them in the past along the Alimanguan shores than protecting them and making successful hatchling releases.
She said after 30 years, the hatchlings they released will be back to lay their own eggs in the same nesting spots where they hatched.
“Noon nakikita namin sila sa aplaya at napapabayaan. Ngayon, they are protected. Patuloy ang conservation ng sea turtles sa Alimanguan. Ginagawa namin ito dahil itong pawikan babalik after 30 years at mangingitlog ulit sa same spot kung saan siya pinanganak. We are doing these for the next generations. The best part of the activity is releasing baby turtles,” she added.
An ordinance protecting the nesting sites from stray dogs that prey upon them is now being strictly implemented, Dasal told Palawan News.
She said residents are already aware of the importance of the turtle species in the balance in marine ecology.
“Hindi kami puwedeng gamitin ito for tourism. Kaya for locals ito — ang gagawin namin tuturuan ang mga bata nang releasing, kung gaano kahalaga ang pawikan at turtle biology. Habang nagre-release ng eggs may learning silang makukuha,” Dasal said.