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PRESERVING MARINE RESOURCES

Misamis town scores conservation point for turtle release

05:16 AM March 05, 2019
Misamis town scores conservation point for turtle release

SEA TURTLE HAVEN A 612-hectare area in Magsaysay town, Misamis Oriental province, has been declared critical habitat for hawksbill turtles. Coastal communities in the town play a crucial role in nurturing these marine creatures, ensuring that nesting grounds are protected from poachers. —ERWIN MASCARIÑAS

BUTUAN CITY — Marine conservation efforts at a coastal community in Magsaysay town, Misamis Oriental province, marked another success after 55 hawksbill turtle hatchlings were released by residents in the village of Candiis last week.

Rolando Pagara, a Candiis village council member who oversees turtle conservation efforts in his community, said the turtles hatched on the early morning of March 1.

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He said 62 of the 117 eggs laid on the village’s beach on Dec. 14 last year failed to hatch.

Turtle nesting

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“More than half of the laid eggs may not have made it but we are still happy that we are able to release this many at this time of the year,” Pagara said.

On Feb. 10, Candiis villagers also released six hatchlings, the only survivors from a batch of more than 100 eggs.

Records from the municipal government showed that seven hawksbill turtle nestings — six in Candiis and one in the village of Damayuhan — were recorded in the town last year.

This was higher than the 2017 record of three, but a huge decline from the 10 to 15 nestings recorded from 2000 to 2005, with 2002 posting the highest record at 15.

Pagara said 2018 was a “big year” for hawksbill turtle conservation efforts in the village.

Critical habitat

“Unfortunately, several of the eggs did not make it, as a result of sudden increase in the height of the tide … in July. Also, there were fewer quality nesting grounds to choose from as most of the area had already been inhabited,” he said.

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In 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) designated a 612-hectare area in Magsaysay as a critical habitat for hawksbill turtles.

A DENR administrative order established the coastal villages of Candiis, San Isidro and Damayuhan as wildlife critical habitats, where six turtle nesting sites were found.

Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, prohibits the hunting and killing of marine turtles and outlaws the gathering of eggs, destruction of nests, and the sale, transport and possession of “any part or derivatives” of these sea creatures. Violators are fined between P100,000 and P1 million or jailed for 12 to 16 years. —ERWIN MASCARIÑAS

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TAGS: Barangay Candiis, hawksbill turtle hatchlings, Magsaysay town, marine conservation
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