200 turtle hatchlings released in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol recently released more than 200 olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) hatchlings in Albay and Camarines Sur.

Faye Jesusa Onrubia, Forest Technician 2 of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Guinobatan, said that 133 hatchlings were released to the open sea at the Ticao-Burias Pass protected seascape in Albay on January 1 and 2.

Onrubia said that sometime between October 27 and October 30, residents of Barangay Nagas in Oas town in Albay sighted adult sea turtles laying eggs at the shoreline.

Since then, the area was regularly monitored by a team from the DENR and Bantay Dagat volunteers to protect the turtle eggs from flood, typhoons, predators and human intruders, according to Onrubia.

“Nakaligtas ang mga sea turtle hatchlings sa mga bagyo nitong huling bahagi ng 2021 na nagpapahintulot sa mga itlog na ganap na sumailalim sa incubation period at hatch,” said Onrubia, adding that 30 hatchlings surfaced on December 27, 50 on December 31 and 46 on January 1.

According to her, the continuous education campaign and public awareness being done in the area helped protect the sea turtle eggs buried along the shoreline of Nagas village, Oas town.

In Bato town, Camarines Sur, at least 106 olive ridley hatchlings were also released to the sea in Barangay Payak on January 6.

The release was led by CENRO Iriga headed by its officer in charge Nestor Franz Fortuno and village chairwoman Virginia Saylago.

According to the CENRO Iriga, village officials reported the sighting of a turtle laying eggs at the shorelines of Payak in October 2021 and volunteers immediately set up a perimeter fence to secure the nesting site.

A communication, education, and public awareness drive was also conducted by the CENRO Iriga in the community to increase the awareness of the residents on sea turtles and other wildlife species, the official said.

In total, 239 turtles were released by local environment officials in the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur.

Catching of endangered species like marine turtles is prohibited under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.