KALIBO, Aklan – A large female green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) was accidentally trapped in a fishnet in the waters of Barangay Camanci Norte, Numancia, Aklan.
Fisherman Marcelo Bustamante, also an auxiliary ensign of the Philippine Coast Guard, immediately sought the help of the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Unit (DENR-PAMBCU).
Green sea turtles are the world’s largest species of hard-shelled sea turtles. They are globally threatened and included in the list of endangered species on May 22, 2004 (DENR Administrative Order 2004-15).
After assessment showed it was in good condition, the marine turtle was released to the sea in Barangay Navitas, Numancia.
The turtle weighed 59 kilos. It had a carapace length of 101.6 cm and width of 106.68 cm.
Locally called pawikan, green sea turtles are one of six species of marine turtles in the world. It is widely distributed in the Philippines and some of its nesting sites are in the coastal areas of Panay Island, Palawan Island and Occidental Mindoro province.
Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as “turtle islands” due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge and scramble into the water.
Green sea turtles have a life span of 80 years or even more but despite this, their population is dwindling.
It is illegal to collect, harm, or kill green sea turtles. Many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger due to human activity. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are hunted for food.
Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die after being caught in fishing nets. Also, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches.
The turtle’s survival rate (from eggs to adulthood) is low, estimated at around one or two individuals per thousand. Some estimates go even lower – at one individual reaching adult for every 10,000 eggs.
The green sea turtle is one of the largest hard-shelled sea turtles. They can grow up to 152.4 cm in length and weigh over 300 kilos.
A female green sea turtle was also rescued after it got entangled in a fishnet in Barangay Centro Sur, Culasi, Antique.
The turtle had a carapace length of 100 cm and width of 100 cm inches.
Before it was released back to the water, DENR tagged the marine animal.
“The continuous appearance of these beautiful marine animals in our area is an indication that we have an undeniably rich biodiversity. Let us not forget Republic Act 9147 or The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.Together with this Act we are constantly reminding the public to give importance to the vitality of these endangered species. They should be conserved and protected to sustain a healthy biodiversity,” said DENR regional director Jim Sampulna./PN