LEGAZPI CITY—A 2-meter-long leatherback turtle was released back to the sea on Sunday night after laying eggs on the shore of Barangay (village) Rawis, this city, the spokesperson for the Naval Forces for Southern Luzon (Navforsol) said on Monday.
In a phone interview, Ensign John Duruin said coastal villagers and representatives from Navforsol and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) freed the endangered creature at 8 p.m.
Duruin said the turtle was found laying eggs on the sand by villagers along Yawa River near the Navforsol headquarters.
“We immediately sent a team of Navy personnel to look into the report and see if the giant turtle was not injured,” he said.
Myrna Baylon, wildlife section chief of the DENR’s Protected Areas Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services, in a phone interview, said the turtle (Deomchelys coriacea) measured 2 meters long and 1 meter wide, and weighed 250 to 300 kilograms.
It is the largest marine turtle found in the world and is now deemed an endangered species, Baylon said.
She said her office had not yet counted the eggs that the turtle laid, as they did not want to disturb the place. Normally, she said, the leatherback would lay 50 to 110 eggs and that it would take 45 to 70 days to hatch.
Baylon expected the mother turtle to return after two weeks and lay more eggs at the nesting site. She instructed the Navy to secure the area with a wired fence to protect the eggs from predators, such as dogs and other animals.
Leatherbacks are the only sea turtles that do not have a hard bony shell and are somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Their shells (carapace) are about 1.5 inches thick, consisting of leathery, oil-saturated connective tissues.
Their front flippers don’t have claws or scales and are proportionally longer than those of other sea turtles. Their back flippers are paddle-shaped.